The Art of Political Satire ; INSIDE STORY ++ Dave Brown Puts Politicians in the Frame - with His Cartoons That Combine Classic Paintings and Scathing Representations of Public Figures

The Independent (London, England), April 3, 2007 | Go to article overview
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The Art of Political Satire ; INSIDE STORY ++ Dave Brown Puts Politicians in the Frame - with His Cartoons That Combine Classic Paintings and Scathing Representations of Public Figures


The idea behind Rogues' Gallery is to represent one of the major political stories of the week in the guise of a famous painting. But I like to give it a twist, by turning the story around; so Goliath defeats David, for example. I studied fine art at Leeds University and got a reasonable grounding in art history there. But I've also created a database with the details of lots of paintings that might be useful for political cartoons. Sometimes I have a particular work in mind which fits the mood and then I have to come up with the joke, or it can work the other way around.

VENUS AT HER MIRROR

By Velzquez, 1644-48

I drew this in October last year. It was the time of the Tory party conference and Cameron, with his new logo, gave a speech about touchy-feely things like the NHS and civil partnerships. It seemed to be a blatant attempt to look like Blair, and as I already saw Blair as a Tory it became hard to know which was which. George Osborne is the little Cupid figure.

THE SCREAM

By Edvard Munch, 1893

This was last summer when Blair was on holiday, and Prescott was in charge, but Reid seemed to be running the country. It was at the time of the airport terror warnings and it was suggested that Reid was scaremongering to raise his profile. The Scream figure just fitted Reid, but there was also a touch of Fraser from Dad's Army about it: "We're all doomed".

THE NIGHTMARE

By Henry Fuseli, 1781

This dates from just before the 2004 US Election between Kerry and Bush. It seemed a double nightmare, Bush was gruesome and Kerry not much better, but there was also the fear that it would all come down to counting chads. I thought that the horrid incubus would suit Bush, and instead of Fuseli's "night mare", I used Kerry's long face to create a night donkey, the Democrat symbol.

LADY MACBETH SLEEPWALKING

By Henry Fuseli, 1783

This is from the last Labour conference when Cherie was supposedly overheard saying "That's a lie" in response to part of Gordon Brown's speech. Downing Street tried to deny it, but the more they protested, the more it sounded as if she was guilty. Instead of Shakespeare's "Out, out damned spot", this is "Out, out damned Scot" and there's Gordon with the knife in his back. It was the gag that came first, but I also knew that Fuseli had done a series of works illustrating Macbeth.

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