A common caricature of Charles Darwin focuses on his beard, eyebrows, and baldness, while often giving him the features of an ape or monkey.
A caricature of director Quentin Tarantino, using pieces of overlapped construction paper and color pencil.
A caricature of film comedian Charlie Chaplin.
A caricature is a portrait that exaggerates or distorts the essence of a person or thing to create an easily identifiable visual likeness. Caricatures can be insulting or complimentary and can serve a political purpose or be drawn solely for entertainment. Caricatures of politicians are commonly used in editorial cartoons, while caricatures of movie stars are often found in entertainment magazines.
An early definition of the origins of 'caricature', an Italian word meaning 'to load', occurs in the English doctor Sir Thomas Browne's Christian Morals (first pub.1716).
Expose not thy self by four-footed manners unto monstrous draughts, and Caricatura representations.
with the footnote —
When Men's faces are drawn with resemblance to some other Animals, the Italians call it, to be drawn in Caricatura
Thus, the word "caricature" essentially means a "loaded portrait". According to caricature teacher Sam Viviano, who stressed this definition of the term in the classes he taught at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, the term refers only to depictions of real-life people, and not to cartoon fabrications of fictional characters, which do not possess objective sets of physiognomic features to draw upon for reference, or to anthropomorphic depictions of inanimate objects such as automobiles or coffee mugs. Walt Disney on the other hand, equated his animation to caricature, saying the hardest thing to do was find the caricature of an animal that worked best as a human-like character.
Ancient Pompeiian graffiti caricature of a politician.
Some of the earliest caricatures are found in the works of Leonardo da Vinci, who actively sought people with deformities to use as models.
The inventor of caricature as an independent art form was, according to seventeenth century sources, the Bolognese history painter, Annibale Carracci. A writer calling himself Mosini recorded Annibale's 'theory' of caricature as being the ultimate antithesis of beauty: 'una bella... perfetta deformità.' Like beauty in art, Annibale held, it was based on selection and synthesis. The artist was to devise it, in a playful spirit like that of Nature, whenever She offered him suitable models. The point was to offer an impression of the original which was more striking than a portrait. Gianlorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), one of the great early practitioners, was favored by the members of the papal court for his ability to depict the essence of a person in 'three or four strokes.'(In fact, the word caricature comes from the Italian caricare, "to load", i.e., the caricaturist's aim is to invest his image with as much meaning as possible.)
Caricature, therefore, experienced its first successes in the closed aristocratic circles of France and Italy, where the such portraits could be passed about for mutual enjoyment which many people enjoyed.
A caricature of Adolphe Thiers charging on the 1871 Paris Commune, published in Le Père Duchêne illustré
This aura of privilege (for both those depicted and those viewing the caricature) passed on to England during the middle of the 18th century, when caricature enjoyed its first wave of popularity there. The first book on caricature drawing to be published in England was Mary Darly's A Book of Caricaturas (c. 1762). Probably the greatest practitioner of the art of caricature in 18th-century Britain was James Gillray(1757-1815). See the Tate Gallery's exhibit James Gillray: The Art of Caricature
The art form gained further popularity in the early 19th century, when satirical drawings of politicians and local celebrities would be printed in newspapers. Caricatures would often be less than warmly received by their powerful targets, and for many years the art form was one of anonymous mischief.
In the years after World War I the art form experienced a renaissance in the United States, and in some magazines caricatures became more common and in higher demand than actual photographs. A new wave of artists like Al Hirschfeld and Miguel Covarrubias showed that caricatures could be fun, colorful, and graceful, and not always the crude, vicious insults found on the editorial page. In the UK Punch magazine kept the tradition alive through the 1950 to 1980 period. The cartoonist Steve Bell maintained the tradition thereafter to great effect. The puppet show Spitting Image on British television during the 1980s brought an awareness of caricature to a new generation, combining rod-operated puppets with accurate vocal impressions. Politicians, media stars and sporting celebrities remained the main targets and the grey finish of a much used John Major puppet played a very significant role in establishing his unadventurous public image in the UK.
Today, the art of caricature is still around, though nowhere near as prevalent as the "Golden Age" of the 20's and 30's. In recent years there has been a rise of amateur "On-the-spot Caricaturists" who can be found on street corners or fairs and will draw a quick sketch of anyone willing to pay their fee. There are also those who draw caricatures from photos submitted over the internet.
MONSTROUS CRAWS, at a New Coalition Feast by James Gillray Copperplate engraving published May 29, 1787
The King, Queen, and Prince of Wales sit around a bowl of guineas and ladle coins into their mouths.
Characters & Caricaturas by William Hogarth Copperplate engraving published April 1743
Hogarth uses his own drawings along with works by Raphael, Caracci and Da Vinci to demonstrate the difference between "character" and "caricature."
See list of caricaturists.
DECEMBER - A Swallow at Christmas (Rara avis in terris) by George Cruikshank Copperplate engraving published in The Comic Almanack for 1841
George Cruikshank (1792-1878, British) created political prints that attacked the royal family and leading politicians (in 1820 he received a royal bribe of £100 for a pledge "not to caricature His Majesty (George III of the United Kingdom) in any immoral situation ." He went on to create social caricatures of British life for popular publications such as The Comic Almanack (1835-1853) and Omnibus (1842). He also earned fame as a book illustrator for Charles Dickens and many other authors.
Une discussion littéraire à la deuxième Galerie by Honoré Daumier Lithograph published in Le Charivari newspaper, February 27, 1864
Honoré Daumier (1808-1879, French) is considered by some to be the father of caricature. During his life, he created over 4,000 lithographs, most of them caricatures on political, social and everyday themes. They were published in the daily French newspapers (Le Charivari, La Caricature etc.)
A Group of Vultures Waiting for the Storm to "Blow Over"--"Let Us Prey." by Thomas Nast Wood engraving published in Harper's Weekly newspaper, September 23, 1871
Thomas Nast (1840-1902, American) was a famous caricaturist and editorial cartoonist in the 19th century and is considered by some to be the father of American political cartooning. He is often credited with creating the definitive caricatures of the Democratic Donkey, the Republican Elephant and Santa Claus.
Al Hirschfeld (1903 – 2003, American) was best known for his simple black and white renditions of celebrities and Broadway stars which utilized flowing contour lines over heavy rendering. He was also known for depicting a variety of other famous people, from politicians musicians, singers and even television stars like the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation. He has was even commissioned by the United States Postal Service to provide art for U.S. stamps. Permanent collections of Hirschfeld's work appear at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and he boasts a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
Mort Drucker (1929 - , American) Drucker joined Mad magazine in 1957 and has become well known (and revered by some) for his brilliant parodies of movies and television shows. He manages to combine a comic strip style with consistent photographic likenesses of film and TV stars panel after panel. He has also contributed covers to Time magazine. He has been recognized for his work with the National Cartoonist Society Special Features Award for 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1988, and their Reuben Award for 1987.
Robert Risko (1946 – , American) is known for his retro airbrush style. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Playboy, Vanity Fair, Esquire, and Interview.
Self portrait by David Levine.
David Levine (1926 – , American) is noted for his caricatures in the The New York Review of Books and Playboy magazine.. His first cartoons appeared in 1963. Since then he has drawn hundreds of pen-and-ink caricatures of famous writers and politicians for the newspaper.
Cover to MAD #223 (June 1980), Viviano’s first cover work.
Sam Viviano (1953 – , American) has done much work for corporations and in advertising, having contributed to Rolling StoneFamily Weekly, Reader's Digest, Consumer Reports, and Mad, of which he is currently the art director. Viviano’s caricatures are known for their wide jaws, which Viviano has explained is a result of his incorporation of side views as well as front views into his distortions of the human face. He has also developed a reputation for his ability to do crowd scenes. Explaining his twice-yearly covers for Institutional Investor magazine, Viviano has said that his upper limit is sixty caricatures in nine days.
Sebastian Kruger (1963 – , German) is known for his grotesque, yet hyper-realistic distortions of the facial features of celebrities, which he renders primarily in acrylic paint, and for which he has won praise from The Times. He is well known for his lifelike depictions of The Rolling Stones, in particular, Keith Richards. Kruger has published three collections of his works, and has a yearly art calendar from Morpheus International. Kruger's art can be seen frequently in Playboy magazine and has also been featured in the likes of Stern, L’Espresso, Penthouse, and Der Spiegel and USA Today. He has recently been working on select motion picture projects.
Hermann Mejia (Venezuelan) is known for his frequent work for MAD Magazine. Mejia uses multiple techniques for his work, sometimes rendering his illustrations in black & white ink and copious amounts of cross-hatching, sometimes using watercolor, and sometimes combinations of both.
Jan Op De Beeck has published several books on caricature and was named "World's Best Caricaturist" in 2003 by a group of professional cartoonists in Iran.
Ryan Holman [Liman] Revered widely as the originator and master of the "square on the left, round on the right" method of caricature. He can be found drawing daily at the Kalahari Resort in beautiful, lakeside Sandusky, Ohio
Computerized caricature and formal definition of caricature
There have been efforts to produce caricatures automatically or semi-automatically using computer graphics techniques. For example provides warping tools specifically designed toward rapidly producing caricatures.
An interesting aspect of some computer graphic systems is that they by necessity incorporate more precise and formal definitions of caricature, although there is not yet agreement on a single definition across different investigators.
A milestone in formally defining caricature was Susan Brennan's master's thesis in 1982. In her system, caricature was formalized as the process of exaggerating differences from a mean face. For example, if Prince Charles has more prominent ears than the average person, in his caricature the ears will be much larger than normal. Brennan's system implemented this idea in a partially automated fashion as follows: the operator was required to input a frontal drawing of the desired person having a standardized topology (the number and ordering of lines for every face). She obtained a corresponding drawing of an average male face. Then, the particular face was caricatured simply by subtracting from the particular face the corresponding point on the mean face (the origin being placed in the middle of the face), scaling this difference by a factor larger than one, and adding the scaled difference back on to the mean face.
Though Brennan's formalization was introduced in the 1980s, it remains relevant in recent work. Mo et al.  refined the idea by noting that the population variance of the feature should be taken into account. For example, the distance between the eyes varies less than other features such as the size of the nose. Thus even a small variation in the eye spacing is unusual and should be exaggerated, whereas a correspondingly small change in the nose size relative to the mean would not be unusual enough to be worthy of exaggeration. Leopold et al.  found that individual face-recognizing neurons in the inferotemporal cortex respond more strongly to caricatured faces than to the veridical representations of the same face, and suggest that the visual brain may code faces relative to a a prototypical face, consistent with Brennan's formalization.
Some, on the other hand, argue that caricature varies depending on the artist and cannot be captured in a single definition. Their system uses machine learning techniques to automatically learn and mimic the style of a particular caricature artist, given training data in the form of a number of face photographs and the corresponding caricatures by that artist. The results produced by computer graphic systems are arguably not yet of the same quality as those produced by human artists. For example, most systems are restricted to exactly frontal poses, whereas many or even most manually produced caricatures (and face portraits in general) choose an off-center "three-quarters" view. rennan's caricature drawings were frontal-pose line drawings. More recent systems can produce caricatures in a variety of styles, including direct geometric distortion of photographs.
The science of caricature
Caricatures have been studied in experimental psychology, with interesting results. Rhodes and collaborators compared recognition of caricatures to anticaricatures. The latter are created using the Brennan formalization but instead of exaggerating the individual differences from the mean, the individual differences are deemphasized (moved toward the mean face) by an equivalent amount. The anticaricatures were much more difficult to recognize, taking four times longer than the caricatures on average. More surprisingly, her study found that caricatures are recognized twice has fast as the default veridical (uncaricatured) drawing.
Ramachandran and Hirstein suggested that caricature is related to peak shift. In the peak shift effect, animals sometimes respond more strongly to exaggerated versions of the training stimuli. For example, if a rat is trained to respond to a rectangle of a particular aspect ratio, and to avoid a square, when later presented with several rectangles it will prefer the one with the most elongated aspect ratio (this being the one that is most different from the square) rather than the original rectangle used in training. Ramachandran and Hirstein speculated that cells in a monkey brain that respond to particular faces would respond more strongly to caricatured versions of the face. This effect has been confirmed in FMRI experiments by Tsao.
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^ E. Akleman, J, Palmer, R. Logan, "Making Extreme Caricatures with a New Interactive 2D Deformation Technique with Simplicial Complexes", Proceedings of Visual 2000, pp. Mexico City, Mexico, pp. 165-170, September 2000. See the author's examples
^ Susan Brennan, The Caricature Generator, MIT Media Lab master's thesis, 1982. Also see Susan Brennan, Caricature Generator: The Dynamic Exaggeration of Faces by Computer, Leonardo, Vol. 18, No. 3 (1985), pp. 170-178, doi:10.2307/1578048
^ Mo, Z.; Lewis,J., Neumann,U. (2004). "Improved Automatic Caricature by Feature Normalization and Exaggeration". ACM Siggraph. DOI:http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/1186223.1186294.
^ Leopold, D.; Bondar, I., Giese, M. (August 2006). "Norm-based face encoding by single neurons in the monkey inferotemporal cortex". Nature442.
^ L. Liang, H. Chen, Y. Xu, and H. Shum, Example-Based Caricature Generation with Exaggeration, Pacific Graphics 2002.
^ Gillian Rhodes, Superportraits: Caricatures and Recognition, Psychology Press, 1997.
^ ab Vilayanur Ramachandran and Diane Rogers-Ramachandran, The Neurology of Aesthetics, Scientific American Mind, October/November 2006.
National Caricaturist Network Official site of the National Caricaturist Network- a non-profit association devoted to the art of caricatures
Caricatures Caricatures in different styles
Honoré Daumier site with a list of exhibitions and bibliography.
Using editorial cartoons in the classroom Sources, analysis, interpretation (mostly English with some German)
Digital and analogue caricatures.
Craig Rogalski Official site of Scottish Caricaturist, Craig Rogalski.
New form of caricatures digital illustrations
Cre8ors Caricatures personal gifts or business promotions
A collection of Caricatures Car Caricatures and drivers, and how they are done.
Ukiyo-e Caricatures 1842-1905 Database of the Department of East Asian Studies of the University of Vienna
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caricature"
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Comically distorted drawing or likeness intended to satirize or ridicule its subject. The word, derived from the Italian caricare ("to load or charge"), was probably coined by the Carracci family, who defended the practice as a counterpart to idealization. In the 18th century the caricature became connected with journalism and was put to virulent use by political commentators. In the 1880s photo-process engraving made it possible to produce and illustrate daily newpapers cheaply, bringing caricatures to the general public. In the 20th century caricature increasingly moved into the editorial, sports, and theatrical sections of newspapers. Important caricaturists include Jacques Callot, George Cruikshank, Honoré Daumier, Gustave Doré, and Al Hirschfeld.
The caricature is amongst the most prevalent and popular of all ‘art’ forms. Certainly, comic representations of the rich and famous, the wicked, and the powerful appear prominently in newspapers and magazines the world over. While these images may contain many different aims and agendas, the most striking feature of all caricature is the distortion of the body: the thin are made skeletal, the plump swell to prodigious proportions, noses inevitably lengthen, while eyes either sink or bulge. Distortions of scale are accompanied by exaggerated representations of manner, dress, and temperament. Whether the target is the President of the US, a successful lawyer, or the Queen of England, the caricaturist's intention is to reveal a personality or characteristic through the comic exaggeration of their most visible feature, habit, or trait.
Given its widespread use, the term ‘caricature’ is often employed rather loosely to describe any form of burlesque, grotesque, or merely ludicrous representation. However, there is more to a caricature than the mere representation of ugliness. A better definition would hold that caricature is an artistic mode, usually in the form of a portraiture, in which the characteristic features of the subject are presented in a way that deforms or exaggerates their shape for comic effect. More precisely, the term ‘caricature’ (which is taken from the Italian caricare) means to overload or to overcharge: as such, caricatures pack meaning and detail onto otherwise simple body shapes. Works of caricature can therefore be defined as excessive or deformed portraits of known individuals; the purpose of such images is generally satiric.
Given this lurid fascination with the ugly, the representation of comic monstrosity might fairly be said to determine the caricaturist's art. With their gross distortion and exaggerated postures the portraits of men and women provided by caricaturists seem distanced from a real encounter with the human body, its strength and frailties. However, this appearance is deceptive. The study of caricature can reveal a lot about changing attitudes to body shape, diet, and sexual activity. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, caricaturists were much influenced (as were artists in many different genres) by the work of G. B. Della Porter (De Humana Physiognomia, 1586) ; Charles Le Brun (Expression des Passions, 1698) ; and Johann Kaspar Lavater (Physiognomische Fragmente, 1775). Le Brun's work described, via a mixture of simple sketches and rather more complicated descriptions, the most striking of facial and bodily attitudes: rage, grief, reverence, and so forth. Le Brun's illustrations provided artists, including caricaturists, with a basic template which they could revise (or distort) for their own purposes.
In the nineteenth century, as research in physiognomy gathered pace, texts such as Charles Darwin's The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals can be seen to have had an influence on contemporary satiric portraits. Certainly anthropomorphic caricature was hugely popular from the middle years of the nineteenth century. As such, caricature provides a record, albeit an oblique one, of changing attitudes to the human body, its form, and its functions. The practice of caricature also has connotations of moral judgement, as well as bodily excess or mere physical form. Writing in 1991, Kenneth Rivers defined caricature as ‘the artistic use of deformation for satirical purposes’. Although the intention behind any given caricature can be defined broadly as ridicule or satire, the precise motivation behind a particular piece can be varied. While the work of some caricaturists aims no higher than the exhibition of crude national or sexual stereotypes, many caricatures reveal more subtle ploys, and greater artistic and political aspirations. Indeed, the history of caricature has often been entwined with the history of censorship. The status of the caricaturist's art might fairly be defined as a negotiation between a crude impulse to ridicule and a higher wish for change or reformation.
Although the point will admit of some debate, it is safe to date the emergence of caricature (at least in its pictorial form) to the early sixteenth century. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) is often cited as an early caricaturist. Certainly illustrations in his sketch books depict faces and figures with their features grossly deformed for deliberate comic effect. An equally plausible candidate for the title of first caricaturist is Annibale Carracci (1560-1609). Carracci's paintings, of which The Bean Eater (1583-4) is a good example, blend the conventions of Italian low-life painting with a keen eye for characteristic detail. However, the claim that Carracci was the first caricaturist rests on the knowledge that his works generally represent recognizable individuals, and not anonymous or general types as is the case with da Vinci; witness, for instance his ‘portraits’ of old men and young girls in his sketch books.
Carracci's foremost achievement was to blend gross distortion with a general likeness, so that while the features of the face were turned and twisted the person portrayed remained easily recognizable. Along with that of his brother Agostino (1557-1602), Carracci's work defined the caricaturist's art as a mode of satiric portrayal which in rejecting the physical reality of the person represented sought to reveal a greater moral truth through the exhibition of their vices. Unquestionably, it is the work of the Carracci brothers that made caricature both artistically successful and hugely popular, both in the sixteenth century, and arguably beyond. Carracci is even credited with offering the following defence of the caricaturist's art:
Is not the caricaturist's task exactly the same as the classical artist's? Both see the lasting truth beneath the surface of mere outward appearance. Both try to help nature accomplish its plan. The one may strive to visualize the perfect form and to realize it in his work, the other to grasp perfect deformity, and thus reveal the very essence of a personality. A good caricature, like every work of art, is more true to life than reality itself.
Carracci's statement defends caricature on the grounds of its artistic worth, and its moral seriousness has been used by successive generations of practitioners and critics eager to defend caricature.
If Carracci established the worth and value of caricature in the Baroque period in Italy, then the golden age of British caricature was without question the eighteenth century. It was during this period that British art produced arguably some of the more playful, most incisive, and most savage caricatures ever attempted. William Hogarth (1697-1764), Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827), and James Gilray (1756-1815) all flourished at this time. While Hogarth's graphic satires employ caricature sparingly as part of a more general lambasting of Georgian society, Gilray's cartoons viciously expose the foibles and deformities of his most prestigious contemporaries. Frequent victims of Gilray's pen were politicians such as the Prime Minister Pitt, who is depicted as thin and emaciated as if on the verge of collapse, while his opponent, the more ebullient Charles James Fox, appears fat and swarthy. Like Hogarth, Rowlandson's comedy is broader, but he still uses startling images of personal deformity in order to get his — sometimes cruel — jokes across. With the addition of George Cruikshank (1792-1878), and possibly Sir David Low (1891-1963), Hogarth, Gilray, and Rowlandson represent the finest achievements of British caricature. Today historians regularly cite the social and political satires of Gilray and Rowlandson as valuable evidence of prevailing attitudes and prejudices within eighteenth-century culture.
Undoubtedly influenced by work going on across the channel, French caricature flourished throughout the nineteenth century. In the uncertain political climate that followed the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1815, pictorial satire enjoyed an uneasy existence. Its principal practitioners were Charles Philipon (1800-62) and Honoré Daumier (1808-79). Importantly, Philipon founded the weekly La Caricature in 1830, shortly to be followed by the daily La Charivari. Both journals provided an outlet for some of the finest caricatures the period produced. Certainly Philipon's representation of the hated Louis-Philippe as an overripe pear on the verge of rotting is a triumph of artistry and political expression. The detested king's flabby features coalesce to form the bulging sides of the fruit, an image which combines, brilliantly, physical ugliness with a distaste for the system of government that Louis-Philippe led. Although quickly repressed, Philipon's and Daumier's work in the 1830s was to have an influence on caricature in France, Europe, and the US for the remainder of the century.
More recently, the twin crises of the early twentieth century — the Great Depression and the rise of Fascism on the continent — have provided caricaturists with fertile if also painful subjects for their comedy. In Germany, George Grosz (1893-1959) used his art to expose the moral bankruptcy of the German state during the Weimar and Nazi periods. Almost entirely self-taught, Grosz drew spare caricatures representing opulent Germans as wholly debauched, their bodies glutted on sexual excess and political corruption. Happily, the twentieth century also saw more pleasurable and prosperous times. In reflecting upon the opulence of the twenties or the wealth of the 1980s, American journals such as The New Yorker, and the British comic magazine Punch, image an affluent society which they wish to chasten yet also to celebrate. The harsh images of Gilray and Grosz are not present, perhaps, but a canny social commentary remains.
— Robert Jones
Gombrich, E. H. and Ernst, K. (1940). Caricature. Penguin Books, Harmondsworth.
Rivers, K. T. (1991). Transmutations: understanding literary and pictorial caricature. University Press of America, Lanham, Maryland.
Victoria and Albert Museum (1984). English caricature 1620 to the present: caricaturists and satirists, their art, their purpose and influence. Victoria and Albert Museum, London