Sean Delonas, cartoonist for the New York Post, recently came under fire for a cartoon in which he depicted President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee.
Delonas defended himself from those who cited the cartoon as racist—a reference to slurs likening African-Americans to monkeys and apes—claiming it was instead a parody of the recent news event where a chimpanzee was shot after viciously attacking a Connecticut woman.
As you mull the issue over in your mind and consider whether the cartoon was racist, if the Post owes an apology to the African-American community or if it was harmless and that opponents such as Rev. Al Sharpton are hypersensitive, perhaps you concluded, as I did, cartoons such as this are the inevitable consequence of a society that allows for the free exchange of ideas.
Why talk about this on an arts blog? Even Delonas himself would not be so bold as to call his work art. His social commentary is a far cry from Damuier’s lithographs but I digress…
The nature of art leaves it open to interpretation. It is indefinable—characterized by the emotion it elicits in the viewer. The controversial, the mundane, the confusing coexist in varied artistic media, and while shocking is not synonymous with good, numerous artists welcome visceral responses from their viewers.
Outrage is the fuel for artistic advancement. The smug “I could do that better” of critics has undoubtedly spurred creation. Disgust, too. Even Delonas’ cartoon has fueled “artistic” creation in the form of blog posts, debate, and yes, more cartoons.
So utilize Delonas’ cartoon to stimulate your own artistic endeavors