Comedians, editorial cartoons, and memes harness the power of satire, parody, and hyperbole to provoke laughter, indignation — even action. These forms of expression are grounded in the unprecedented freedom of artistic expression of the 17th-century Dutch Republic.
Fake News & Lying Pictures: Political Prints in the Dutch Republic explores the complex visual strategies early modern Dutch printmakers used to shape public opinion around historical events, create political heroes and villains, and form consensus for collective action. Deeply embedded in the politics of their time, the impact of these prints reaches beyond the 17th century to resonate with contemporary visual culture.
Dutch printmakers used trolling tactics long before the invention of the internet, concealed damaging information, told outright lies, and ridiculed public figures using strategies employed by today’s cartoonists, comedians, and creators of social media disinformation. These prints could stoke collective unrest and even violence — impacts images continue to make today.
Krannert Art Museum (KAM) invites engagement with these topics through an international symposium on Early Modern Global Political Art on October 20–21. The fully hybrid event features keynotes by Liza Oliver and Dawn O’Dell. Registration is open now for in-person and virtual sessions.
The museum will also host an in-person roundtable on December 1, “Political Cartoons in an Age of Fake News: Getting Laughs While Speaking Truth to Power,” featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post cartoonist Ann Telnaes; Keith Knight, whose work inspired the Hulu series “Woke”; and printmaker Eric J. Garcia of Instituto Gráfico de Chicago and the Veteran Art Movement. The discussion will be moderated by Stacey Robinson, Afro-futurist artist and Associate Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Maureen E. Warren, exhibition curator and KAM curator of European and American art, is the editor and lead author of a book accompanying the exhibition, Paper Knives, Paper Crowns, available through DAP Artbook.
Fake News & Lying Pictures: Political Prints in the Dutch Republic is on view through December 17 at Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Made possible with grant support from the Getty Foundation through The Paper Project and Dutch Culture USA. For more information and a full list of sponsors, visit kam.illinois.edu.
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