It is almost unfathomable to comprehend the workings and the processes of what could be considered average human imagination in all its glory of striving through a thought process littered with reason and the irrational, the real and the netherworld of obscurity. However, an unusual imagination of brilliant, creative innovation is even further removed from the elusive strands of understanding. It often places us in the realm of private meanings and public purposes and in terms of art confronts the viewer with a visual language often not easily decoded as the futile efforts with the Mona Lisa and the Ghent altarpiece are witness to; in which cases certain peculiarities are construed to have multiple meanings or an absence of meaning. Could these masters have harbored such vague and ambiguous designs? hardly.But how to understand this phenomenon of personal comedy coexisting with personal tragedies from the minor to the epic.? We become fascinated by a work of art, and then become fascinated by our own fascination…
Spruill:Picasso once said that every good work of art is a kind of joke. Diego Rivera, the revolutionary Mexican muralist, agreed. Every piece of worthwhile art, properly understood, is not only like a joke, it is shocking. It must connect its elements in a new way; the world comes to be seen in a new way. A punch line of a joke may get a laugh, or perhaps only a smile. A first view of a great work of art may make one smile, more likely not. But it will be shocking, often without the viewer knowing quite why. “So art may not be a joke,” Rivera said, “but it is always like one.” …the much neglected Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious, where Freud found similarities between jokes and works of art, it would be worthwhile to draw a sketch of the “love-child.” That child was the product of breaking the rules which purport to separate science from art, rules which would dictate conformity and submission to authority rather than revolution, and rules which call only for conventional solutions to oedipal dilemmas.
Art Chantry:The first time I saw a real punk poster on a telephone pole, I was stopped dead in my tracks. I peeled off that poster and hung it in my little apartment and stared at it for weeks. It took me a long time to process what I was looking at. When I ran into Barney Bubbles’ work shortly thereafter in a record store, it was like looking at messages from Mars, utterly alien to everything I had learned about design and art. Even after the initial impact of punk, it was still an intensely foreign language to me….But the really contrasting aspect was his thinking. Whatever was going on, he did the opposite. It may not have seemed that way in his mind but to the general pop culture trend at large around him, it was coming from an alternate position. It even seemed contrary to punk.
…The other major factor which grabbed my attention – more than all of the other designers working in the period – was his wondrous sense of humour. He must have been a wonderful guy to hang out with.
Every one of his covers is a carefully rendered inside joke. To me he is at his most marvelous when he references the very process of design itself – through intentional MISTAKES!
Spruill:Similarly, in 1905 he published the “Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria,” Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, and Jokes and Their Relation to the Unconscious — and two minor papers as well. In fact, Freud wrote the books on jokes and sexuality side by side. He kept the manuscripts by each other, and worked on one or the other as it pleased him. Among their common attributes is the view they give of Freud’s imagination operating at different levels simultaneously. The two books, seemingly so different, are integrally related. During the next three years, he followed up certain of the motifs in these works with psychoanalytic applications to the fields of drama, literature, religion, sexual morality, and character….Freud wanted to explain the pleasure obtained from jokes. He thought it depended on their techniques as well as their tendencies. Techniques involve condensation, displacement, indirect presentation by means of allusion, plays on words, the breaking of ordinary burdensome rules of logic, and the establishment of unexpected connections between disparate ideas….
…But who makes up jokes? What impels them to do it? What are the dynamics of the creation of a work of art? Freud did not know, nor do we. In 1930, he remarked: “Even the best and fullest of them [biographies of great men] could not answer the two questions which alone seem worth knowing about. It would not throw any light on the riddle of the miraculous gift that makes an artist, and it could not help us to comprehend any better the value and effect of his works” Read More:http://www.analysis.com/vs/vs85.html
So, we can see that humor can be independent of aesthetic beauty, and properly used does permit a social commentary to pass embedded in the artwork with detracting or negating an important consideration that art possess complexity and skill of execution, with the humor/irony acting as a sub narrative within an elaborate visual language.