THEMATIC: Parody and Satire

"How to Blow up Two Heads at Once (Ladies)," 2006. Two-life size mannequins, two guns, Dutch wax printed cotton, shoes, and leather riding boots, dimensions variable; plinth:63 x 96 1/2 x 48 inches overall, each figure: 63 x 61 x 48 inches overall. Collection of Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA. Photo by Stephen White © Yinka Shonibare MBE. Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.

Parody and satire are powerful tools for communicating ideas through works of art. Yinka Shonibare uses parody in his work to both recognize and poke fun at particular social issues. In his Art in the Twenty-First Century segment, the artist explains how some of his work can be seen as a parody of class. View Shonibare's segment, and reflect on the ways in which the artist uses humor to simultaneously explore and critique political or cultural events.

Compare the way Yinka Shonibare uses parody and satire to the methods of other artists, including: John Feodorov, Mark Dion, Eleanor Antin, and Paul McCarthy.

SEGMENT: Yinka Shonibare MBE in "Transformation"

Before Viewing
Discuss and define the words parody and mimicry. How do these terms relate to humor and satire? Discuss examples of parody and mimicry found in art history or contemporary culture. Why and how are they used in art?

While Viewing
Describe the figures in Shonibare's work, including their construction and clothing. Why did Shonibare present them this way? Describe the identities of the figures.

After Viewing
Compare and contrast Shonibare's Diary of a Victorian Dandy with Hogarth's The Rake's Progress. How does each artist use parody, humor, and satire?

Shonibare talks about the difficulty of living in his own body. Which of his works address this difficulty, and how do they do it?

"Diary of a Victorian Dandy: 14.00 hours," 1998. Type-C photograph, 72 x 90 inches. Edition of 3 (1 AP). Collections of Peter Norton and Eileen Harris Norton, Santa Monica. © Yinka Shonibare MBE. Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.


Shonibare says that he would like to have the trappings of wealth, even though he criticizes it. Consider the genre of satire, and create a work of art that critiques something you desire.