On The Comedic in Modern Art

On The Comedic in Modern Art

Surrealist kingpin André Breton once referred to dark comedy as a kind of “black sphinx.” This year’s Southern California Consortium of Art Schools symposium, presented in partnership with the Hammer Museum, investigates how this sphinx-like comedic spirit has permeated modern art.

Listed in order of appearance, philosopher Simon Critchley begins the day putting the comedic in context; performance and video artist Michael Smith reflects on his hilariously awkward and regressive journeys as various alter egos; art historian Janet Whitmore discusses the modern origins of comedic genres; John Baldessari talks about comedic strategies (and happy accidents) with fellow funny artist Meg Cranston; artist David Robbins reports on his decade-long investigation into the comedy of objects; and Andrea Fraser, Jo Anna Isaak, and former V-Girl Jessica Chalmers discuss the relation between comedy and gender. 

Generous support for this event has been provided by the art departments of the SoCCAS member schools (Art Center, Otis, UCI, UCLA, UCSB, UCSD, USC) and by the University of California Institute for Research in the Arts (UCIRA) and the Center for the Humanities, UCSD. 


Public programs are made possible, in part, by major gifts from the Annenberg Foundation and Mimi and Werner Wolfen. Additional support is provided by Laura Donnelley, Bronya and Andrew Galef, Erika Glazer, and an anonymous donor.