Lisa Anne Auerbach in Funny. at the Flag Art Foundation


There are multiple types of humor: dark, off color, smart, subtle, and downright hilarious. I am particularly interested in the pause that occurs between the delivery of a joke and the smile that indicates someone “gets it.” Unlike contemporary art, where there is no single meaning to a particular work, with humor people usually either think something is funny or they don’t. As with art, however, there are subtleties regarding the degree to which someone wants to participate in or play along with a jest. So it is not surprising that humor in art has a wide variety of manifestations. Richard Prince uses Borscht Belt–jokes that continue to deliver head-shaking laughs after all of these years, even in serious art contexts. Matt Johnson and Sarah Lucas manipulate or reassociate everyday objects to elicit a knowing smile.

I greatly value the place of humor in art. When asked about what I look for in the artists and art I choose to exhibit, I often cite humor as a criterion. I am not looking for the roll-on-the-floor, laughing-my-head-off type of humor I seek from my friends or from entertainment, but rather an acknowledgment of the often absurd nature of life. Art that seems to know our everyday lives are tough; art that understands we seek solace as well as inspiration, insight, and yes, even amusement.

I think all of the works included in Funny. are. You may or may not find them so, and that is exactly the point. Art and humor are highly personal, highly individual. Yet we all recognize that the ability to hold an audience with an object or a joke—or both—is an ability imbued with immense power.

Lisa Anne Auerbach               Mike Kelley
Lutz Bacher                            Friedrich Kunath
Darren Bader                         Hanna Liden
John Bock                              Sarah Lucas
Maurizio Cattelan                   Mads Lynnerup
Peter Coffin                            Alix Pearlstein
Simon Evans                          Jack Pierson
Ceal Floyer                             Richard Prince
Fischli/Weiss                          Rob Pruitt
Robert Gober                         David Shrigley
Sara Greenberger                  Rafferty Haim Steinbach
Joseph Grigely                       Erwin Wurm
Matthew Higgs                       Jim Hodges
Matt Johnson