Fine Arts Museum, Museum of New Mexico

Left: Plaza, Looking North, Santa Fe, February, 1997; Right: Detail of Front Facade, Fine Arts Museum, Santa Fe, 1997, photos by John Hazeltine

Santa Fe, NM



Oliphant in Santa Fe: Political Drawings, Caricature, and Sculpture


In the political Life of Santa Fe, where the sublime and the ridiculous are often one and the same, and where most residents are eager to speak their minds about politicians, Oliphant in Santa Fe: Political Drawings, Caricature, and Sculpture ought to draw some crowd to the opening Friday, October 13, 2000, at the Museum of Fine Arts. Punch after punch, president after president, this master political cartoonist and Santa Fe resident has challenged readers in this country since 1964 with his no-holds-barred commentary in the form of political cartoon drawings. (left: Luther Hodges, 1999, charcoal and oil on canvas, 72 x 48 inches)

Today, at 65, his editorial cartoons are published in more than 450 magazines and newspapers worldwide. Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1967, Oliphant is considered one of the most influential editorial cartoonists of the 20th century. In an interview with CNN, Oliphant said that offending a public figure is, to him, a "badge of honor." But, he doesn't like to meet politicians, fearing he'll like them and have his objectivity compromised in the process. (right: Gifford Phillips, 1999, charcoal and oil on canvas, 72 x 20 inches)

"What a magnet it [politics] is for every crook in creation," Oliphant said. "It's like the Mafia in Vegas. They just won't go away. It's a natural attraction."

When George Bush first ran for president. Oliphant noticed "that he removed his glasses for speeches and public appearances because he thought they made him look like a wimp. So, on behalf of all the rest of us who wear glasses, I gave him glasses in every cartoon." Oliphant said. "And. then added a purse for him to carry just for good measure." He also drew Bush's Vice- President, Dan Quayle, as an infant in a baby carriage.

"Caricatures of the newly famous, the semi-famous, and the wannabe famous take a long time to settle down before people realize just who it is I am drawing," Oliphant said. "I hate changes of administrations, because I have all my villains in place and they are all taken away and replaced with faceless wonders nobody knows."

The internationally syndicated political cartoonist will present new, oversized drawings of political and cultural personages from the New Mexico area that include Governor Gary Johnson; Representative Ray Sanchez and Senator Manny Aragon; several local art patrons; earlier oversized drawings of Clinton, Bush and Reagan; and pieces originally published in the New Yorker. The exhibition will consist of approximately 55 works, including 30 political cartoon drawings of the 2000 presidential election, monotypes, paintings, and bronze sculpture, all grand character studies demonstrating the range of the artist's work. (left: George Bush, 1989, bronze, edition of 12, 28 x 43 x 12 1/8 inches)

"We were intrigued with the idea of presenting a show that crosses back and forth between fine art and political commentary," said Tom Wilson, director of the Museum of New Mexico. "Oliphant is considered by many art scholars to be in the company of Honoré Daumier."

Oliphant in Santa Fe: Political Drawings, Caricature, and Sculpture opens in the East Gallery of the Museum of Fine Arts with a reception hosted by the Women's Board of the Museum of New Mexico on Friday, October 13, 2000, from 5:30-7:30 pm. The exhibition closes on April 8, 2001. Gallery Talks are scheduled in St. Francis Auditorium for Wednesday, October 18, 2000, and Wednesday, March 7, 2001, both at 12:15 PM, by museum admission. (left: Naked Nixon, 1985, bronze, edition of 12, 10 x 10 x 7 inches)

All images are of the work of Patrick Oliphant.

Read more in Resource Library Magazine about the Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe.

Please click on thumbnail images bordered by a red line to see enlargements.

For further biographical information please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

This page was originally published in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information. rev. 3/23/11

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