Rare Finds

Scarfe’s Satires at Auction

By Rebecca Rego Barry

For more than five decades, 80-year-old English cartoonist Gerald Scarfe has been at the ready with his pen to comment on the political and cultural scene. His work has appeared in the New Yorker and the Sunday Times, as well as in theatre and film. On April 5, 130 of his originals go to auction at Sotheby’s London for the first major sale of his drawings.

From Winston Churchill to Donald Trump, Scarfe has taken a no-holds-barred approach to his art. In a press statement, he commented, “I feel it’s the duty of an artist to re-interpret the world and to freshen our stale vision, making us see what we hadn’t realised was there. What I’m trying to do is simply to bring out their essential characteristics. I find a particular delight in taking the caricature as far as I can.”

Pink Floyd Scarfe Sothebys.pngFor some, Scarfe is easily recognized as the artist (read: genius) behind Pink Floyd’s The Wall. According to Rolling Stone magazine, “Scarfe famously began crafting the visual world of The Wall before Pink Floyd began recording the album.” Scarfe not only drew illustrations for the 1979 album, he did the animation for the 1982 film version, including the WWII bombing sequence, as well. Several related pieces are among Sotheby’s offerings; my favorite, “The Teacher,” is pictured above. Its auction estimate is £7,000-9,000 ($8,750-11,250).

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 10.11.03 AM.pngThe literary-minded among us will pause over Scarfe’s Shakespeare and his Wilde, but get perhaps the biggest laugh over “The Book Signing,” which depicts Tony Blair signing copies of his 2010 memoir, A Journey, atop a soldier’s coffin. Executed in pen, ink, and watercolor, the drawing is estimated at £4,000-6,000 ($5,000-7,500).

Screen Shot 2017-03-29 at 10.15.02 AM.png

And, apropos of today’s news especially, Scarfe’s “Lost in the Brexit Jungle,” featuring Theresa May, seems destined for a bidding war. The estimate is £5,000-7,000 ($6,250-8,750).

Images via Sotheby’s

Browse related collectible books:

George Scarfe Art & Books

Pink Floyd Collectibles

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  • Brilliant cartoon though it is, Scarfe’s “The Book Signing” is unlikely to have produced many laughs amongst its appreciative audience. Like the very best political caricature, it will have generated many feelings, ranging from wry recognition to awkward squirming, but not real laughter, I would suggest.

  • Good work on the Scarfe article; concise and clear.
    We Yanks have had Al Hirschfeld of course, who was not very political, but also had an exaggerated style that didn’t obscure the point.
    No doubt you’re familiar with Hirschfeld’s use of his daughter’s name, Nina, in his drawings. Does Scarfe have any similar quirks?
    Doug in New Mexico, USA.

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