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The role of humour in contemporary art

AHT2105 - Contemporary International Art

5 Pages Essays / Projects Year: Pre-2018

Humour has been neglected as a serious topic throughout art history, however humour can have an incredibly powerful effect in an artwork. Like art, humour can open one’s eyes and allow us to see the ordinary and mundane from a different viewpoint; and in an epoch where themes and materials are borrowed from the everyday and when anything can be considered art, humour actualises the ability to review and rethink content that is frequently hidden beneath the surface of an artwork. Humour can be seen as a versatile tool in the contemporary art sphere, it can convey anything to anyone regardless of one’s race, gender, age, nationality, religion, beliefs, physical conditions, education level, etc.; it is as natural as our ability to recognise, interpret, and evaluate it. We can become quite intimate with humour, but it is not necessarily as simple as a fart joke, it can reveal deeper meanings and point out problems of a modern society; it also gives artists a vast possibility of expressions. Humour makes you laugh, then makes you think. This is seen beginning with Marcel Duchamp’s readymade ‘Fountain,’ (1917) where irony, puns, alliteration, and paradox, layered the work with humour whilst still enabling it to comment on the dominant political and economic systems of the time. In this way humour can be destructive, chaotic, and unsystematic of hierarchy as it bleeds over those qualities that can differentiate, rank, and categorise us, and allows for an all accessible commentary against the norms of society. received distinction


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