Offensive Vulgarity in an Age of Enlightenment
Thursday, October 23, 2014
Yale Center for British Art Lecture Hall
1080 Chapel St., New Haven, CT 06510
Steve Bell proposes to discuss Hogarth's continuing legacy for contemporary graphic satire, and to address the question of just how necessary it still is to offend.
Steve Bell has been drawing political comic strips for a living since 1977. He is a proponent of the short form, usually four frames, sometimes longer, and more often than not daily. Since 1981 he has written and drawn the If… strip in the Guardian and, since 1990 has been drawing four larger format political cartoons a week for the same paper. He has as yet has never produced a graphic novel, though the 'If…' strip has so far run to several thousand pages with as yet no end in sight. His work is unashamedly comic, but many of his cartoons are quite deliberately not funny at all.
He was born in London in 1951, grew up in Slough and studied art in Middlesbrough and Leeds, qualifying as a teacher before becoming a cartoonist full time in 1977. His original strip Maggie’s Farm appeared in Time Out and City Limits magazines from 1979 through to 1987, and he produced regular cartoons in full color for the New Statesman from 1987 to 1999.
He created the memorable images of Margaret Thatcher's mad left eye, John Major with his underpants worn outside his trousers and of Tony Blair's inheritance of Thatcher’s rogue, mad eyeball. Ever since George W Bush’s installation as President by the Supreme Court in December 2000 Bell depicted him as a chimpanzee. Currently he depicts David Cameron with a condom on his head, to which the Prime Minister is on the record as having responded: “You can only push a condom so far.”
His work has been published all over the world, he has had twenty nine books of his work published, and has won many awards, including the Political Cartoon of the Year in 2001, 2008 and 2013, the What the Papers Say Cartoonist of the Year in 1993, the British Press Awards Cartoonist of the Year in 2002 and the Political Cartoon Society’s Cartoonist of the Year award in 2005 and 2007 and the Cartoon Arts Trust Award nine times. With Bob Godfrey he made several animated cartoons for TV, including a cartoon biography, ‘Margaret Thatcher – Where Am I Now?’ Broadcast on Channel 4 in 1999.
His work has been exhibited in many countries, including Syria, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan, Egypt, Italy, Sweden, the USA and Australia. In 2011 had a retrospective exhibition of his work 'Steve Bell - Im Auge des Zeichners' at the Wilhelm Busch Museum in Hannover, Germany. ‘Bell Epoque’, a thirty year retrospective of his work was on show at the Cartoon Museum in London from May to July 2011. He has been awarded honorary degrees from the Universities of Teesside, Sussex, Loughborough, Leeds and Brighton.
He is married with four grown up children and lives and works in Brighton.