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tv   American Artifacts Off the Record Bar Political Cartoons  CSPAN  April 1, 2021 10:10pm-10:36pm EDT

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stretch. but she's doing great stuff. >> thank you so much for this, i hope everybody you have enticed everybody to go online and see the exhibition. >> absolutely. >> great exhibition. >> thank you for having us, it was a real pleasure.
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each week, american artifacts thanks to museums, come icons and historic sites around the country. the historian hotel just across lafayette square, from the white house. it's barr, off the record, it's decorated with a collection of political cartoons and it's featured in the journal of the white house historical association. even the coasters are updated with current political characters. we spoke with vice president and general manager. and politico cartoonist, matt worker about the artwork on display. >> it was built in 1938 on the site of the residents itself, and henry adams. and after they finally relinquish the rights to the site in 1926, it was then the developer who built this hotel along with the continental
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hotel. the hotel has been in existence since 1928, this bar has been in existence somewhere starting in the sixties or seventies but with my rival in 1999, this was already known as the record and remains to be seen but not heard and it was not in this coloring format and lay out but it was pretty well the same bar and the basement of the hotel. it's kind of like the speakeasy place and has become very popular over the years. the decorations of political cartoons are displayed from various artists dating back to a collection of artist who at this stage has deceased. we do keep some of the original artist still in-house. from what i know, it's that the previous ownership in the eighties and nineties decided to bring in some artwork after
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having a few beers, i guess over the bar and in the bar. that's how it really established when we have built up on this, we've been using a local artists. and pulitzer prize-winning art artists. in order to continue to continue the tradition of rotating political ads through the bar. >> my understanding is that this goes back to about 2000, they redid the garden here at the hotel and they went with this classic washington cigar dan, back then you can smoke and bars in washington. so they re-did it with the lean back chairs and that dark burgundy walls and somebody thought that they wanted to departments for art. and the original joseph kudos on huawei's remark would.
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and it ended up donating his 30,000 cartoon collection to the labor of congress. and he made in arrangement with the hotel to loan them a bunch of classic characters from this collection. and since then, he got involved in 2008, thanks to my buddy richard thompson when they wanted to update the characters to stuff that was more current. the wood collection, mostly went back to the 16 seventies, eighties and then there was a big gap and the things started happening in the bar where people would come in and then your clients didn't recognize the people from the nixon and reagan administration. so they want to people from the clinton and obama administration. so that's when richard thompson, who would fortunately pass to win a couple years ago passed away. richard was an astounding territory tourist. he was really the top-flight caricaturist of the time and did a lot of things for u.s.
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news and world report and the new yorker and so he came in with a portfolio drawings and they got some of those and they wanted more and they say check out my friend matt worse at politico so i want. and i got also and some more recent political figures. i struggle both works, i work with caricature's and a political cartoonist and there is a difference. political cartoonists use words and when i'm wearing my political cartoonist hat, i'm really a political commentator. just like somebody who is writing a column in the pages, except i draw my opinion and ideally express it with her surname on a fume or and the poor columnist have to rely on using the words. i think the old song about a picture is worth 1000 words, is actually quite true. i mean, somebody who writes an 800 word essay about text
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policies or something has to rely on a reader that's willing to invest five minutes to read those words. the magic of a political cartoon as you glance at a cartoon and we have a visual acuity, we pick up stuff really fast, we recognize a face, a setting, a metaphor, upon and you can process a cartoon really quickly. so we have a certain advantage, i think. there's some people that think political cartooning is going away. it sort of an archaic form of political expression and i feel are just the opposite. i feel like political cartoons are the perfect ryugu foil which were tensions byline, twitter, social media. and i'm sticking to that, the power of positive thinking. caricature is a little bit different in the characters don't have the advantage of using words bubbles and captions. it's purely a visual thing and you're not really expressing a
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complicated political opinion, you're basically just trying to capture a character. a good caricaturist can load that up with other stuff and insert a political opinion or maybe there is some detail where there is some commentary in the setting or the clothing of the caricature. i learned this just recently after working as a caricaturist for 40 years. the word caricature comes from the italian word. kara correa, i'm probably mispronouncing it. it means to load, as in a boat or a part or a gun. and so, a caricature, boosted portrait. you're not just trying to capture the physical apps tributes of somebody. you're trying to get edgy, humor, hopefully some commentary and if you do it right, you capture more than
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just a statistical attribute of something. i was very lucky ended a young man, i grew up in los angeles and when i was in high school and i was first interested in cartooning, i got to meet paul comrade, who is one of the giants in the field, three-time pulitzer prize winner for the l.a. times. most broadly, i mean he was most proud of the fact that he was the only cartoonist to make his enemies list. so, comrade sort of opened the door to me that this is a viable career path, which is sort of an awkward career path, if you think about it. he was very encouraging and inspiring and then, you know, you start off in the teens and twenties and i would look around and, you know, i loved the work of her elephant, who work for washington post. david levine, who is probably, i don't know what's the right word? he was pivotal and very influential in caricature.
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and in fact, you still see it in my work, somewhat some of these other words like these really wonderful, he signed velho, but his name was ed. it was very similar to a levine. living in was a master of the fluid cross hatch. the big bubble ahead, the little body and then the right waist with some other little detail those really put in there. so levine, like a lot of other cartoonists was a brilliant cartoonist. that's why i fell in love with it. the bar, it's a wonderful collection of cartoons that spends a lot of decades, in fact a century. and it goes back to another one of the great tendencies of footnote cartooning, caterpillar, who drew for, and i think it was actually a publisher, one of the joint owners of pop magazine. and this was back in the golden age of political cartooning, kept layer would do these beautiful polar lithographs
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that would be too peach spreads for pug magazine. if you remember your american history books, you know, there is the wonderful standard oil cartoon or the oil tank with the tentacles of the octopus representing rockefeller reaching out. the call it a cartoon is almost pulling it down, because it was a real work of art. it was like an oil painting. so there's a couple of caterpillars here from pop magazine, those are probably the oldest one at the bar. and then, ron covington, who is over in this corner. i think would be sort of the next ones. the cartoons are almost all from the reagan era and i think that was when richard and i were brought in, was one people were failing to recognize jean kirk patrick.
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i've had the bartenders come in, they have a drink, some of the bartenders will come in with a new help will come in and go around and would you help us -- because they're cautious and leaving has to wear these people? and over that bob dole, don't you remember bob dole? no, i don't remember bob dole. this wall is sort of the mix of a mishmash of different cartoonists work. this is richard thompson, that's me, another richer thompson, that's me. these are a couple of colored ones which is interesting in comparison to the pure winds around the fireplace there. these are watercolor images, these were obviously done in the 1970s. richard thompson's style is just -- as a cartoonist, i just look at this and it's such a beautiful combination of blue slime, he was a influenced by a lot of the english cartoonists. but then he took it to his own
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sort of place. i aspire to this, but i'm still at age 60 something, working on it. this is one that i did for politico, this is a caricature of bernie sanders. you could see some of the differences. i add water color and richards approach was a classic sort of dip had. he works it is now to work perfectly in the 19th century, but it's also very modern. this is another richard thompson. you can sort of see the difference in that i rely on a lot of little lines, little black and white lines that revert back to the thomas -- again some trying to ape that. richard stall here, you'll see that the rendering is really done with watercolor and he'd likes to paint and render the shapes. here's a paul ryan that i did
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for politico. there is a dick cheney which are both richards up there. it's interesting, this wall gets a lot of attention when i come into the bar and i'm sitting around. usually people, as they're leaving the bar will stop and this wall, maybe it's because it's right by the door it gets a lot of attention. here's a shameless self promotion thing that ■mveçñi dir politico way back in the very beginning. one of our reporters did a piece about odd couples in washington, people you wouldn't expect to find, say getting a drink at a bar. and so, of course, this is when i had started doing stuff for the hate adams. this is mitch mcconnell. i situated them actually in this bar for this one. this was a little cover illustration for politico back one wrong with chief of staff at the white house. i was far too nice to mitch mcconnell and this one, but
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sometimes that happens. and then here's a biden, also one of mine, and a couple more of richard thompson's a lower bush. and again, just this lovely sophisticated, and look so simple but the sophistication and the color scheme of the painting of richer stuff is just still is annoying and wonderful. and up in the corner, that's our trump that kevin draws for the economist, did just recently. but the twitter bird on his shoulder, a fabulous piece of cover art. and the bar, probably 75% of the are on the walls that are released very caricature's and there are a number of real political cartoons here and this particular corner has caught one by me and won by kevin cal her. this is one of the four public. oh you can immediately tell the
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difference and then got word bubbles, captions, it's a lot more information and opinion being conveyed and these of course, which is really what we are about. kevin's is is a lovely example of good political part tunes sort of and is conveyed really quickly. so in this case, it's the boxing ring and it's israel and palestine going at it and obama is the real rough and it's around 3,487,000 and then you see the old arrests from the boxing ring, bush, clinton, bush again, reagan, all beat up. and it's a lovely example of how you can take a very complicated political issue and ideally, if you're doing a good political cartoon, you can distillate down to a nice visual make it that convinces
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the complexity but quickly and hopefully with a little bit of fight. it is a cartoon i did that naturally they like to do about the haves, because is the head of the u.s. chamber of commerce that happens next door and all the money that they were spending on the campaign, i believe i should take my cartoons, but i believe this one is from 2008. and i resistance is futile and they're blasting the democrats and piles and piles of cash. and i understand he actually like this cartoon, which fills me with mixed emotions. these two are the oldest ones in the bar and really represent kind of the golden age of american political cartooning, which you would have found in have magazine, which is a cartoon magazine that were done by caterpillar. the color lithographs, i wish i knew the exact sort of details of the politics at the time,
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but here you have the classic political cartoon trope, the big theme of the big interests being held down on the speaker and it says, the caption down here is very small. the leader of the minority, he can't get the speakers i, and is under the thumb of the big interest, and it is uncle sam. uncle sam being a creation of political cartoonists and i believe most people credit thomas nast with really sort of creating the uncle sam that the rest of us recognize and eulogize all the time. . this is the actual little graphic print and the nice thing about pollack and that wonderful golden age of editorial cartooning is they give cartoons lots of space. cartoon is these days, we get trump down more like that and
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we were in print. but, back to my sort of optimistic wrap on editorial cartooning. this was perhaps some of the best color printing, especially at the time to display a political cartoon but in 2018, cartoonists are working in a digital realm and the biggest audience for cartoons are now on smart phones and ipads and retina displays actually let us do all sorts of elegant watercolor and other kind of nuance that begins to rival the kind of cartoon you can do on a big scale kevlar got to do. so in some ways, we're getting back to this kind of cartoon. these two cartoons are by -- dross for the washington post on the digital side and our political cartoons that are often animated gifts. she won the pulitzer prize back, i think it was in 2000 for her static political cartoons and
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has moved onto animation. and i think these were studies that ended for an animation that she created around the inauguration of obama. and and got a different style, she's not across stature, she actually went to cal arts and is a true animator and you can see it in her very strong line style that really stands out. she now works also on watercolor as well. the adams has a sort of special place in washington and his foreign particular. the first time i came into the bar was probably 17 years ago and a friend of mine brought me down here and you could still smoke and bars in washington. and this was a smoking door. this was a cigar bar. and we came in on a cold winter night and i had just moved to washington from the west coast and was fascinated by the culture of the city and you walked in here and there was this inversion layer of cigar
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smoke and all of these people, all dressed up and suits or whatever sitting around, having conversations and -- it was right out of a cartoon. and was like oh my god, this is denim i equity that you imagine being in the basement right around the white house or something. and within that, this is the cave, there is this one booth that's in the back that they can close off. there is really no place like it in washington a few years ago han had the idea of doing coasters. so they commissioned original art for these and every six months or so we will have a little designed caricature isn't cartoons of people who are in the news, ideas for coasters, and we hand them out
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to people here. it's an interesting exercise in american politics. certain caricature is like this hillary clinton are going to be evergreen. she is not going anywhere. some of the other characters we drop, i'm not sure they will be in the news, like for instance, sean spicer. he was an obvious one we thought about when trump came to town. he came and went, so fortunately we didn't do a coaster. likewise scaramucci. we situate them out a bar doing various things. you usually add a little details. this was the hillary won, hillary leaving a hotel in bill is carrying all the baggage.
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you get the joke [laughs] [laughs] [laughs] [laughs] these are more cartoons from the heartwood collection, back in the eighties. covington has a specific style, a bit related, but he took it his own direction and there is very light cross hatching and a lot of gray scale. caricature is a very strange thing. you try to caricature someone by exaggerating features. by exaggerating features. butq)e is limits to exaggeration. some go right to the very edge and take it away from what you would recognize as the individual. covington is kind of like that. here, this boris yeltsin is a wonderful extremely exaggerated pushing of the form. here is senator bird from west
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virginia, jerry brown. it's always fascinating when you also work with people. sometimes i talk to art students and it's amazing how you always have to be so branded in detail. it's true of all political thinkers. they can become a simple iconic thing george bush and barack obama, i could draw six lines and people would say, that's george bush or there is barack obama. once you've done the outline of the face and that years with obama, even before you completed, people will know. it is a mystical thing. her facial recognition software in our brains is very acute. it is one of the things that caricaturist can use to their advantage. it takes a little effort to be
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nonpartisan when you are doing things for the coasters. but i am paid for at politico is to have a political opinion and express it strongly, the same with the others. we have to dial that back, which i also understand is not just that we don't want to necessarily anger people when they come in for a drink at the bar or something like that. one of the nice things about the bar and the culture in washington is there is a lovely word members of congress use called comedy. you get along. you figure out to get along with people you may disagree with, but you can sit down and have a drink with them. that's the spirit of the bar and the spirit we all bring to the coasters. we suspend our political opinions and we will save that for political cartoons. in this case, we will just have some lighthearted fun with the
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characters. author richard carr rudy spoke about the former president lincoln's sense of humor. the abraham lincoln institute at ford's theater hosted the symposium in washington, d.c.

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