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Ronald Searle – Caricature Manifesto

Another manifesto from Jot-- this one still relevant given the atrocities of early this year at Charlie Hebdo in Paris. We found it in La Caricature: Art et Manifeste Du XVI siecle a nos Jours (Skira, Geneva 1974) which was produced by Ronald Searle, Claude Roy and Bernd Bornemann. At the beginning Searle contributes a  piece ('Quelques Reflexions Authentiques..') that is a cross beneath a credo and a manifesto. It has not been translated before (to our knowledge) and our friend Tom A has done a sterling job. There is a pun about a hound's tooth which Tom says works better in French than English. Searle was much admired in France and lived there for the last 50 years of his life. Rave on...

La caricature est un art mineur qui comporte des responsibilites majeures.
Caricature is a minor art which carries major responsibilities.

L'humour c'est quelque chose qui met les gens en colere quand on leur dit qu'ils n'en ont pas.
Humour is something which makes people angry when you tell them they don’t have a sense of it.

La satire est la plus haute forme de la basse intention.
Satire is the highest form of a low instinct.

Du meme que l'huile et l'eau la caricature et la bienveillance ne se mêlent pas.
Just like oil and water caricature and goodwill do not mix.

La grande caricature est comme l'amour. On peut en jouir tout en jetant une semence. The best caricature is like love. You may enjoy it while sowing your seed.

La caricature n'est jamais bonne pour la victime mais elle est toujours excellente pour quelqu'un d'autre.
Caricature is never good for the victim but it’s always very good for someone else.

La caricature doit se pratiquer avec l'adresse du chirurgien et les intentions du boucher.
Caricature should set to work with the care of a surgeon but the intentions of a butcher.

On ne fait pas de caricature mordante avec des fausses dents mentales
You don’t achieve cutting caricature with intellectual false teeth.

La caricature est un chien de garde pour le public et le chiendent pour le politicien
Caricature is a guard dog for the public but houndstooth [i.e. a poison or a curative; a pun] for the politician.

La plus petite aiguille peut faire sauter le plus grand ballon.
The smallest needle can prick the largest balloon.

La caricature est l'art de glisser un coup d'estoc entre les cotes de la victimes alors qu'elle est encore en train d'admirer le décor de la lame.
Caricature is the art of slipping your sword between the ribs of your victim while he is still admiring the work of the blade.

La caricature est l'art de déformer une image pour faire un tableau plus vrai.
Caricature is the art of disfiguring an image to create a truer picture.

Celui qui veut étouffer la caricature a quelque chose a cacher.
He who would suppress caricature is himself hiding something.

Si vous frappez quelqu'un il s'obstinera dans ses vues.Si vous chatouillez, il se rendra peut-être a votre argument.
If you attack someone they will persist in their opinions. If you tickle them they may perhaps come round to your point of view.

L'histoire de la caricature est l'histoire de la conscience de la société.
The history of caricature is the history of Society’s conscience.

En voila assez, je crois pour aujourd'hui.
Enough, I think, for today.

Ronald Searle. Paris Avril 1974

A box of 'several hundred' drawing pens
from Ronald Searles' house in France

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One thought on “Ronald Searle – Caricature Manifesto

  1. Anonymous

    I'm glad you added the photo of RS's pens –"Caricature is the art of slipping your sword between the ribs of your victim while he is still admiring the work of the blade."

    Reply

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