Fine Art Can Be Funny and Offensive: Victor Navasky on Political Cartoons

BY Katelyn Polantz  August 5, 2013 at 3:04 PM EDT


Slide Show: A collection of cartoons that rocked art and politics.

One can write a number of things about David Levine’s 1984 cartoon of Henry Kissinger, shirtless in bed, on top of an anthropomorphized globe. But seeing the cartoon is what made the staff of The Nation magazine revolt in anger.

Victor Navasky was editor of the weekly magazine then. He’s used the experience with that cartoon to propel a retrospective on political cartoons throughout history. In his book “The Art of Controversy: Political Cartoons and Their Enduring Power,” he looks at caricatures drawn by renowned artists, illustrations that have irked dictators and drawings that shaped modern American icons.

NewsHour political editor Christina Bellantoni interviewed Navasky about the book, and the question he seeks to answer: How can these drawings pack so much more power than words alone?

Their conversation is here or watch it below.

Navasky previously visited the NewsHour in 2005. You can watch his interview with Jeffrey Brown on opinion journalism here:

And for more insight into political cartooning, the NewsHour spent time with two masters of the craft for impromptu draw-offs at the Republican and Democratic National conventions. That story, featuring Scott Stantis of the Chicago Tribune and Rob Rogers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is here. Or watch below:

Weigh in and let us know what you’ve found to be a memorable political cartoon. Consider the comments section below an open thread for discussion.