Seriously Joking: Puns & Pranks in 20th Century Art

Humour has long been recognized as a powerful force in artistic expression, challenging conventions and inviting audiences to reconsider the boundaries of creativity. This talk delves into the fascinating intersection of humor and art, focusing on the use of puns and pranks in avant-garde movements of the 20th century. From the anarchic spirit of Dada to the dreamlike landscapes of Surrealism, and from the playful irreverence of Pop Art to the emotive depths of Abstract Expressionism, we explore how artists employed humour as an incredible tool for dismantling the serious institutional power of the art world, challenging viewers to reconsider their preconceptions and embrace the unexpected. Join us for an enlightening journey through the lighter side of art history, where serious themes meet playful execution, and laughter becomes a catalyst for an insight.

Please, note:

  • the total duration of the event is 1 hour ( ~ 50mins lecture and 10mins Q&A)
  • the talk doesn’t require any prior training and anyone can join
  • This event will be recorded: the video will be available in 3-5 days after the talk
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Sarah Jaffray
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Sarah Jaffray holds a BA and MA in Art History with an emphasis in 19th/20th century France and a minor in the Italian Renaissance. She holds a second MA in Cultural Theory from Goldsmiths, University of London. Sarah was a lecturer for several colleges and universities in the Los Angeles area before relocating to London in 2012. She has worked in curatorial roles at the British Museum and Wellcome Collection. Sarah is currently a lecturer at the University of Arts London and Coordinator for City Lit’s Art History programme. Her art historical practice focuses on experimental narratives, artistic process, art pedagogy, politics and philosophy. Sarah’s current research is focused on translation and empathy.

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