Provoking, or Pondering? What Makes the Best Satire?

Fifty-three drawings by Georges Wolinski that explore the famously combative cartoonist’s more philosophical side are on display at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris through May 13.

PARIS — From his youth in the 1950s until his death in the attack on the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo in 2015, the French satirical illustrator Georges Wolinski often returned to drawing a particular image: a man standing at the edge of a cliff.

Sometimes, Mr. Wolinski drew the man alone and pretending to be the master of the universe. Sometimes, the man is more darkly realistic about his prospects, looking over the cliff to see an open grave. And other times, the man is with a woman, and the existential seriousness of the cliff is no match for more everyday concerns. “Did you think to turn off the gas?” the man says. “No,” she replies.

Metaphysically inclined as he was, Mr. Wolinski, editor in chief of the satirical monthly magazine Charlie Mensuel from 1970 to 1981 and one of Charlie Hebdo’s principal illustrators from 1992, was better known for his political provocations than for his existential musings. His killing in 2015 at the hands of Islamist extremists had a wide impact, starting an international debate about censorship and the future of satire.

But an exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo in the French capital, timed for the 50th anniversary of the May 1968 student uprisings and running through May 13, seeks to explore Mr. Wolinski’s metaphysical satire rather than his well-known political radicalism.

A concurrent exhibition — running through June 3 at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, France’s national library — stands in contrast, presenting a more typical approach to political satire. The editorial cartoons of Jean Plantureux, known as Plantu, are provocative, topical and clear in their opinion. Taken together, the two exhibitions question whether it is existential inquiry or direct ridicule that makes for the most effective satire.

During the 1968 revolts, Mr. Wolinski co-founded the satirical magazine L’Enragé (The Enraged), and before that, he worked as an illustrator at Hara-Kiri, a precursor to Charlie Hebdo that was so provocative it was banned in 1970 after making light of the death of Charles de Gaulle, the former president.

Mr. Wolinski and his French cartooning companions — including Maurice Sinet, known as Siné, with whom he co-founded L’Enragé and who later had a column in Charlie Hebdo; and Jean-Jacques Pauvert, another frequent collaborator — held little back, sharing an obsession with sex and with the macabre and the forbidden. Religion, marriage, capitalism — it was all ripe for their ridicule. Their development as critics, cartoonists and activists came during a golden age of satire in France, when radical freedom of expression had tangible political effects.

But beneath this political activism, Mr. Wolinski was a man grappling with deep, human questions. “What was really interesting for me was to discover this poetical side of Wolinski that was hidden,” the curator of the exhibition, Rebecca Lamarche-Vadel, said in an interview. “When you understand that, actually, all of these drawings were very much informed by the metaphysical questions he was asking himself, you see the motifs of inner conflict.”

The 53 drawings at the Palais de Tokyo are arranged into categories around recurring themes and motifs in Mr. Wolinski’s early work: God, cliffs, mountains, flowers, turtles, gender, and the passage of time. The God drawings come first. In one, an exasperated-looking God looks down at Earth from a cloud. “Yet another gadget,” he quips. In another, a man holds up a balloon. “Hey God,” the man has written on the balloon. In both, the seriousness of the desire to know the divine is made funny by the drawings’ whimsical premises.

Mr. Wolinski’s lightness and internal investigations might seem like the opposite of radical politics: The drawings care little about ridiculing individuals or about pointing out flawed policies. But at the same time, they suggest the whole world would be altered if we saw ourselves with a little more levity.

The exhibition of Plantu’s work at the Bibliothèque Nationale, on the other hand, goes straight for the issues. In a recent drawing, which has the words “culture clash” in the background, Plantu draws increasingly zoomed-in depictions of a woman’s thong until it becomes a niqab and her bottom looks like the face of a Muslim woman wearing it. In another, which provoked a lawsuit from a right-wing organization that accused it of provoking hate or violence, the words “Pedophilia: The Pope takes a position” appear above an image of Benedict XVI as he violates a boy from behind. (The Court of Appeal of Paris dismissed the lawsuit.)

Plantu started his career at 21 with an illustration criticizing the Vietnam War that was published in the daily Le Monde, and his cartoons have appeared in that newspaper regularly ever since. In 2006, he and Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations, formed Cartooning for Peace, an organization that promotes freedom of expression for illustrators.

“I do the work of a citizen who’s passionate and politically active,” Plantu said in an interview. “The difference from other citizens is that I recount my reactions in images.”

Plantu said that his brand of humor, although well intentioned, was also often misconstrued. “The word irony is incomprehensible to some,” he said, adding that a “lack of education and critical training” meant his works were misunderstood more frequently nowadays.

The directness of Plantu’s satire is markedly different from that seen in Ms. Lamarche-Vadel’s selection of Mr. Wolinski’s works. “When you see these works from Wolinski, they make you feel the political environment and settings without even speaking about them directly, which is very interesting and very important,” she said. “I think the B.N.F. is really seeing Plantu’s drawings as more of a comment on the everyday,” she said, referring to the Bibliothèque Nationale.

“I think both are really valuable,” she added.

Ms. Lamarche-Vadel’s point seems to be underlined in the two exhibitions. Satire is about shifting the balance of power from the powerful to the powerless. In both, we are encouraged to recognize the absurdity of our political figures, but also, the absurdity in ourselves.

In an 11-minute animated video illustrated by Mr. Wolinski that plays in the Palais de Tokyo’s underground cinema, a man bumbles through a gray, post-apocalyptic world. He soon finds himself facing a steep hill made of junk. With some effort, he ascends the hill, and is rewarded with a view of yet more junk — broken cars, a downed airplane. But he’s mesmerized by it all. It is a battered world, a world that may never recover from humanity’s self-destruction; but, here, atop it all, he’s finally been presented with access to the chaos in himself and in his world.

“Oh,” the man says, aghast. “It’s beautiful.”

In Other News

fake money

Keywords clouds text link

Dịch vụ seo, Dịch vụ seo nhanh , Thiết kế website ,  máy sấy   thịt bò mỹ  thành lập doanh nghiệp
Visunhomegương trang trí  nội thất  cửa kính cường lực  Vinhomes Grand Park  lắp camera Song Phát thiết kế nhà

Our PBN System:  thiết kế nhà xưởng thiết kế nội thất thiết kế nhà tem chống giả ban nhạ  ốp lưngGiường ngủ triệu gia  Ku bet ku casino buy fake money máy sấy buồn sấy lạnh

mặt nạ  mặt nạ ngủ  Mặt nạ môi mặt nạ bùn mặt nạ kem mặt nạ bột mặt nạ tẩy tế bào chết  mặt nạ đất sét mặt nạ giấy mặt nạ dưỡng mặt nạ đắp mặt  mặt nạ trị mụn
mặt nạ tế bào gốc mặt nạ trị nám tem chống giả  công ty tổ chức sự kiện tổ chức sự kiện
Ku bet ku casino
Sâm tươi hàn quốc trần thạch cao trần thạch cao đẹp

suất ăn công nghiệpcung cấp suất ăn công nghiệp

© 2020 US News. All Rights Reserved.