Art History Comedy

August 22 2014

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Picture: Hannah Gadsby

I've always kept an eye for art history jokes. There's the old Tommy Cooper one about him finding a Stradivarius and a Rembrandt in his loft, and then confessing that that sadly Rembrandt made rubbish violins, and Stradivarius was no painter. But to be honest, that was about it.

Or so I thought, until last night I went to see the Australian comedian and trained art historian Hannah Gadsby at the Edinburgh Fringe. Her show, The Exhibitionist, is about portraiture, and in particular how sitters, including artists, represented themselves in art in the past in relation to how we do so today, when photographs and the 'selfie' are ubiquitous. Her show is both completely hilarious, and thought provoking. I would urge you all to see her if you get the chance. There are two more days to go for the Edinburgh show, which you can book here. You can follow Hannah on Twitter here

We also went to see Phill Jupitus talking about art, and specifically his attempts to make copies of various pictures in the National Gallery of Scotland. He was excellent too, and loves paintings. He's slightly obsessed, but in a rather touching way, about John Singer Sargent's Lady Agnew. He did a number of shows for the National Gallery of Scotland for free, so good for him.

Update - a reader sends in another old favourite:

Years ago a clever thief devised and executed a brilliant theft at the Louvre and made off with numerous impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. Tragically for him his van, loaded with the paintings, ran out of fuel a mere few blocks from the Louvre and he was apprehended by the Gendarmes. Later under questioning the incredulous Gendarmes asked him how it was possible that in the execution of such a daring crime could fail on such a small point as fuel.

With a typical Gaelic shrug he said “I did not have enough Monet to make my Van Gogh”…

Boom, boom.

Here's a genuine art history joke though; when Van Dyck was asked why he took such care with his sitters' hands, he replied, 'Because the hands pay the bill'.

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