A caricature expressed by transformation and deformation emphasizes a certain characteristic of a person, animal, or thing which captures or helps us understand a specific personality. The role of caricature in revealing a truth has occasional affinity to a monster (Frascari, 1991). A caricature stresses specific aspects of a concept, and more of the image is involved, but both caricature and monsters recombine complex narratives or forms into new compositions; these compositions convey a new meaning. Where caricature demonstrates and employs the new combination ' to show ' , the monster presents the future and acts as a soothsayer in the role of architecture. A caricature, on the contrary, emphasizes deformation to disclose the true state of affairs, to ascertain the inner nature of a specific personality, or, most often, to ridicule.
Caricature takes important aspects of the character to the extreme so that the character's visual likeness is recognized. To reiterate, caricature depends on the combination of unique characteristics and the transformation of features. The transformation of dynamic features of the likeness must rely on the ability of that counterpart to emerge from behind to be recognized. Part of the humor and understanding is conveyed through the caricature 's resemblance to the corresponding shape: '[r]esemblance is a prerequisite of caricature' (Kris, 1934: 298).
The interpretation, or understanding of a caricature surprises the viewer by its recognition, simplicity, and its quickness. This recognition, often in the form of humor, permeates architectural sketches. They are quick in reference to play, meaning intelligent and also witty. Caricature has a strong relationship to play and, similar to qualities of quickness, the conceptual nature of architecture is revealed by architects who possess the skills of narrative, speed of mind, ability to express their
thoughts, possess a sense of time, and understand the essence of economy (Calvino, 1988). Architects' experience, humor, and imagination help them to achieve caricature in their work.
A sketch by Gianlorenzo Bernini (Figure 4.2) reveals some of these skills of the caricaturist. Although not an architectural subject, this sketch is particularly interesting in that Bernini was an artist, sculptor and architect. It questions Bernini 's attitude toward the power of drawing to elicit an underlying determination whether the subject is architectural or artistic. Here Bernini sketches the character of Cardinal Borghese and even though this drawing dates from the late Renaissance or early Baroque period, it is possible to detect the cleverness and humor used to describe the Cardinal 's face. Often a caricature requires knowledge of the original, but in this sketch Bernini captures the personality in such a way that it is possible to identify the ridicule in this telling portrait.
In a less than dignified position, Cardinal Borghese has been pictured on a sedan or in bed. He wears an extraordinarily large mitre; although it defines his position, its size has been exaggerated as it nearly slides off the back of his head. Cardinals were occasionally allowed to wear this headgear but the mitre was usually designated for the Pope and bishops, as part of formal regalia. Wearing the mitre to bed or in a casual way may have been a sarcastic commentary on the attitudes of Cardinal Borghese. Bernini's slow pen lines express a confidence in the form composed in his mind. With a single line he was able to outline the Cardinal 's entire head and neck, with an extremely large nose and thin neck. The line-thin fingers are posed in a declarative gesture, possibly another point of ridicule. Bernini has drawn the eye of Borghese in profile with a single circle. Remarkably, the pupil of the eye has been implied by the slight thickness of line where the circle terminates. Hunched, and nearly reclining, the narrative expresses a feeble and ineffective cleric. Here the caricature provides the expression of an understanding with only a few lines. Kris and Gombrich comment on these revealing features when they write about other of Bernini's caricature drawings:
The strokes of his pen show a sublime freedom. Following the lines of the compositions we realize that it was not by chance that this style came to be used for caricature, for it belongs to the essence of the joke and can scarcely be separated from its inner meaning. The physiognomical expression in the fine drawing of a captain of the fire brigade becomes a grin, and this grin consists of a single line. The face of Cardinal Scipione Borghese is distilled down to a few lines as if it were restricted to a formula. Thus, the abbreviated style gains its own significance, as if the artist were to say to us: 'See, this great man is nothing but a lot of lines; I can grasp his personality in a few strokes'. (Kris & Gombrich, 1938: 324)
Conveying a concept quickly, especially one that expresses a truth in ridicule, is distinctive of caricature, as it reflects a skill of economy, expressing the most with the least. Caricature assists, through visual recognition, in the immediate interpretation of a person or situation that is often elusive and lies beneath the surface, available to be released by humor and ridicule. Gombrich and Kris discuss caricature 's hidden meaning in evaluating the artist Carracci:
Is not the caricaturist's task, he is reported to have said, exactly the same as the classical artist's? Both see the lasting truth beneath the surface of mere outward appearance... The one may strive to visualize the perfect form and to realize it in his work, the other to grasp the perfect deformity, and thus reveal the very essence of a personality. (Gombrich & Kris, 1940: 11, 12)
Ridicule is the characteristic of caricature that separates it from parody or humorous art (Hutcheon, 1985). Although characteristics of these genres are often interchangeable, along with those of the grotesque, a definition of ridicule can provide an understanding of its intricacies. To ridicule is commonly defined as to mock, to show the absurdity of, to make fun of, belittle, taunt or tease. Looking more closely, its meaning also includes to gouge and to expose (Oxford English Dictionary). These meanings assist in understanding the importance of ridicule in caricature. Ridicule in caricature makes use of critical humor to find the faults in a character in order to exaggerate them. This exposure of otherwise subtle characteristics finds a truth beneath an illusory façade. To gouge may mean to poke holes in; another way to find a truth and see underneath. The etymology of ridicule is very close to that of riddle. Raedels means opinion or conjecture, and raedan is to advise, interpret, guess, penetrate or pierce (Oxford English Dictionary). All of these terms point to the revelatory aspects of caricature. To riddle can mean to make holes in, or to separate. In this instance, the riddle associated with ridicule sifts out a new interpretation or critical comment.
As mentioned earlier, Annibale and Agostino Carracci named these critical exaggerations ritrattina carichi. A look at the Italian meaning of 'aricatura finds a relationship to load, burden or exaggerate. The ridicule of caricature may 'load' the image with multiple interpretations. This extra information contained in a caricature may express more knowledge than an illusionary portrait. Caricature 's meaning ' to burden' also provides a relationship to satire, which is directly related to ridicule. Satura means ' full' and is related to satis which means ' enough'. Satire is often considered interchangeable with ridicule and the aspects of 'full' and 'loaded' from caricature give the ridicule a dimension of containing immense meaning (Oxford English Dictionary). Gombrich and Kris further describe the hidden meaning found in the deformation of caricature when they write that the features of the caricature seem like a mask, but the exaggeration serves to unmask the victim (1938). Caricature removes a façade, and allows a view beneath it; in this sense it resembles the grotesque by revealing a new truth in the reality it displays.
The grotesque is an intermediary between the known and the unknown, as it straddles two worlds. Its transient ambivalence is incoherent and concedes multiple interpretations (Harpham, 1982). Geoffrey Harpham explains that ' grotesqueries' are literary or visual occurrences which '... [call] into question the adequacy of our ways of organizing the world, of dividing the continuum of experience into knowable particles ' (1982: 3). The grotesque resembles caricature in that both approaches to representation exhibit intelligence, often through paradox (Harpham, 1982). The immediate recognition is contingent upon interpretation.
With art, and comparably to architectural sketches, this immediacy tends to make the physical image expendable. The abstract thoughts generated, the forms conceived and allusions discovered constitute the importance of sketching but, after the thought process is complete, sketches are only leftover physical fragments of the design. The procedure of caricature is similar, in that once a caricature 's meaning is recognized, the message is known and it may not be necessary to use the caricature again. The narrative of a caricature recounts the story of the person because, in its economy of lines, the caricature gives insight into the deeds or position of a figure. It also requires intelligence and wit to find truth in a fleeting expression.
The caricaturist finally, and probably most importantly, needs imagination to transform and combine, so it is possible to understand this new interpretation. With this communication to someone, the caricaturist must have some dimension of intention. That intention may be strong, as expressed in a political cartoon, or as subtle as Michelangelo 's placing an eye on his drawing of a molding profile (Figure 3.8). Ridicule is intentional by nature because of the necessity to include some aspect of the original in the caricature. Because the caricature is visual, its intentions must be inferred from the image (the text). Since there is no record of intention other than the caricature, its effectiveness depends on the perceiver. It is necessary to borrow from the original to communicate the meaning of the ridicule. Since caricature is not a replica, or quotation, the relationship to the original requires interpretation.
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