caricature


Description on back of a postcard of “Plaza in China City, Los Angeles” circa 1930: “Interesting shops displaying everything from genuine Chinese art to curios and firecrackers, and numerous restaurants serving delicately flavored Chinese food, attract throngs of visitors to China City, in Los Angeles.” Found in the Hagley Library Postcards of Motels and Roadside Attractions Collection.

In the vast picture-gallery which is life in London or Paris …. And so they run on, those endless galleries of high and low life, branching off at intervals into innumberable tributaries and backwaters.

– Charles Baudelaire, “The Painter of Modern Life” (1863). In Charles Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays. Jonathan Mayne, trans. (London: Phaidon, 2006), pp. 37 and 39.

Once more to attempt a definition of the kind of subjects preferred by our artists, we would say that it is the outward show of life, such as it is to be seen in the capitals of the civilized world; the pageantry of military life, of fashion and of love.

Charles Baudelaire, “The Painter of Modern Life” (1863). In Charles Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays. Jonathan Mayne, trans. (London: Phaidon, 2006), p. 24.

It is the fear of not going fast enough, of letting the phantom escape before the synthesis has been extracted and pinned down; it is that terrible fear which takes possession of all great artists and gives them such a passionate desire to become masters of every means of expression so that the orders of the brain may never be perverted by the hesitations of the hand and that finally execution, ideal execution, may become as unconscious and spontaneous as is digestion for a healthy man after dinner.

Charles Baudelaire, “The Painter of Modern Life” (1863). In Charles Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays. Jonathan Mayne, trans. (London: Phaidon, 2006), p. 17.

[There is] … a need to see things broadly and to consider them above all in their total effect. It is by no means out of place here to remind my readers that all those painters whose vision is synthesizing and abbreviative have been accused of barbarousness — M. Corot, for example, whose initial concern is always to trace the principal lines of a landscape — its bony structure, its physiognomy, so to speak. Likewise Monsieur G. brings an instinctive emphasis to his marking of the salient or luminous points of an object (which may be salient or luminous from the dramatic point of view) or of its principle characteristics, sometimes even with a degree of exaggeration which aides the human memory; and thus, under the spur of so forceful a prompting, the spectator’s imagination receives a clear-cut image of the impression produced by the external world upon the mind of Monsieur G. The spectator becomes the translator so to speak, of a translation which is always clear and thrilling.

Charles Baudelaire, “The Painter of Modern Life” (1863). In Charles Baudelaire, The Painter of Modern Life and Other Essays. Jonathan Mayne, trans. (London: Phaidon, 2006), p. 15.

Every uncultivated person is a caricature of himself.

– Friedrich Schlegel’s fragment no. 63 from the Athenaeum Fragments (1798), trans. by Peter Firchow.

So-called good society is usually nothing more than a mosaic of polished caricatures.

– Friedrich Schlegel’s fragment no. 5 from the Athenaeum Fragments (1798), trans. by Peter Firchow.