is there humor?
Fontaine by Marcel Duchamp
The first step was taken by Marcel Duchamp, he applied alternative concepts to art, outside of all ideologization and transcendence; he opened roads and walked along paths that had never been walked before by any artist in history. One of them is humor: iconoclastic, distant, of conceptual irony; Much of his work exalts the ordinary, the popular, the everyday, it is directed against the aristocratic vision of the scholars of “great art”; he wants a democratic popularization of it and a contemplation that embraces the general public. It makes a synthesis between the formal and the conceptual, between the object and its function, which predisposes us to a world close to humor, which provokes smiles and a transgressive irony.
No one has subsequently picked up on this deranged art as well as Maurizio Cattelan, a genius out of nowhere, an artist of trick and pastiche, of the vulgar, even the eschatological, and of the commercial denunciation of art; this is just business.
Let’s look at some examples: that hand with four severed fingers that makes an obscene gesture on a pedestal placed in front of the Palazzo Mezzanotte, the Milan Stock Exchange; another, Pope Wojtyla with a meteorite under his cassock placed on his ass; another, Hitler turned into a kneeling little boy; item, that banana he sold in Basel Miami and was swallowed.
Cattelan, his daring, his nihilistic vision of aestheticism, connects with a concept of art that has more to do with the provocation and feeling of the observer than with meaning. There is a sarcastic humor in that art that is the child of our desolate times.
Humor is necessary even in art.