Art Less Gnome More!

Some shocked readers will say disbelievingly, “No art this time?” In response, I feel a tautly-argued paper, “The aesthetics of garden gnomes,” coming on. I would write it with Andy Williams’s “Gnome lovin’ man” as background music. If anyone is interested, I did the comparable exercise with Lego(TM). I told the chairman of the board of my museum he would benefit from reading it, and was no doubt unwittingly signing my death-warrant in the imminent restructure.

But I digress. My liberal left-wing mid-century modernist parents, bless them, brought me up to despise garden gnomes as signifiers of vulgar and contemptible petit-bourgeois values upholding hegemonic capitalism. This thesis was confirmed by the late Shirley Williams, an endearing left-liberal British politician, who rapidly came to the conclusion that attempting to canvas any gnome-infested household during elections was doomed to failure, as their guardians were invariably complacent Tory philistines. Naturally I was intrigued by all of this, and felt like sticking up for these delightful little men and their Tory owners, and even defying parental admonitions. Were gnomes not subaltern victims of oppressive academic/art world culture?

It was not until my 50s, however, that I quite summoned up the nerve to buy two “collectible” gnomes, rather worse for wear, and left them happily in their garden when I moved locations and into an apartment. So, after this brief fling, I am once more gnomeless. Any analyst, Lacanian or otherwise, would nonetheless tell from these jokes that I have a deep-seated sense of identity with gnomes, before quizzing me on my love-life and innermost desires, possibly beyond gnomes – but reader, my lips are sealed! Someone who enjoyed a far more colourful love-life than mine was the great poet and writer of the Claudius novels, Robert Graves. He was a war hero with a zest for life, sharp intelligence and lack of political correctness that compares with the badly-missed Prince Philip. The two men would have got on like a house on fire. Graves’s famous poem “Down, wonton [sic] down” is brilliantly raunchy – Lord Rochester recast some 250 years later…


What is the favourite poem of Gnomes? Robert Browning: “Gnome thoughts from abroad.”

Here’s a favourite Gnome saying (NB: they are pretty right-wing): “A woman’s place is in the gnome.” It vies in popularity with “Gnome, sweet gnome!

German garden gnome.

The government of the Gnomes recently funded a project to determine everybody’s DNA sequencing. It was naturally called the Gegnome Project.

Gnomes are, as I say, a conservative lot. Accordingly, the standard occupation for their fair sex is “Gnome-maker.

What is the favourite magazine of lady Gnomes? Gnome and Garden.

What is yet another favourite saying of their culture? “All roads lead to Gnome.”

A slightly troubled Gnome goes to a psychiatrist, who asks him, “I hope you don’t mind telling me as to whom you are sexually attracted?”
“Male Gnomes, of course, the bushier the beard the better!”
Ah, then you must be a gnomosexual!” (I trust this isn’t gnomophobic)!

The Gnomes decide to build a very large monument of a triumphant gnome which has the simple and obvious title of Gnome. Being industrious little chappies, the monument is nearly completed by the end of the day whereupon, most unfortunately, the gardener collides into it with his wheelbarrow, causing untold damage. The gnomes are in a state of grief and denial, but their glib project manager tells them reassuringly, “It’s OK, guys, stay cool. Gnome wasn’t built in a day.”

Gnomes are avid historians. Here is a timeline of important events:

  • 753 BCE: Founding of Gnome
  • 1066 CE: The Gnome-man Conquest
  • 1922 Gnome rule for Ireland. Civil war ensues with the Leprechauns.

In their intellectual tastes, our little friends particularly esteem baffling thinkers, e.g., Duns Scotus, Hegel and Heidegger. Indeed, the more “gnomic” the better!

Moving right along …

When Robert Graves was in a Chinese restaurant, a gorgeous dollybird entered the premises and made him choke with emotion. He spluttered: “Down, wonton, down!

Bust of Robert Graves. Deia, Mallorca, Spain.

What is the specialist cuisine of the Chinese navy? Junk food.

The Ballymoney Debating Society rashly decided to hold a gentlemanly debate: “This house believes that the Irish have something in common.” Fisticuffs and shillelagh-bashing ensued, before the motion was unanimously defeated.


The featured image shows a postcard by Arthur Thiele, ca, 1914-1918.

The Wit Collection: Art History Jokes 8

Well, chaps, one or two of these are likely to be over the heads of the common herd, so I am assisting with a few select images. The first joke alludes to a famous Caspar Friedrich painting. Ernest Trobridge designed fantastic houses in unfashionable petit-bourgeois London suburbs like Kingsbury. Hands up who’d prefer to live in one of these rather than an overpraised Le Corbusier villa, baking in summer, freezing in winter, with a roof that constantly leaked?

Talking of over-praise, someone all of you will have heard of (and I bet you wish you hadn’t) is Patti Smith. Excellent LP in Horses, but she should have been confined to her stables these past 40 years. I have a good mind to start a campaign to get her expelled from the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. The juxtaposition of Alfred Stevens’s Valour and Cowardice and the endearing Oscar the Grouch (clearly inspired by Diogenes), is too irresistible not to reproduce. I wanted to include this reference in the entry I penned on Stevens for the Grove Dictionary of Art, but the editor said no, probably because many readers of the GDoA wouldn’t know their Sesame Street. But they do have a sense of humour, as attested by volume 19 of the series, “Leather to Macho.” Furthermore, at my insistence they included an entry on Maurice Sendak. Bless! I will squeeze in an extra joke in the hope that Nirmal won’t notice [Ed. he noticed!]. You didn’t know this but Maurice Sendak had aspirations as a songwriter as well as an illustrator. So he sent his idol, Elvis Presley, his new song. Unfortunately Elvis was distinctly unimpressed, and told Colonel Parker: “Return to Sendak!”


How might one best describe an unsuspecting student exposed to the New Art History in c. 1990? A Wanderer in the Sea of Fog.

Caspar David Friedrich, Wanderer above the Sea of Fog, 1818.

A great G.F. Watts painting fetched a record price at Sotheby’s yesterday. The Sun’s headline: “500,000 Watts!”

Exhibitions they would never dare put on:
Popular vs Art World Realism: W.P. Frith and Edouard Manet
Bastien-Lepage vs. The Impressionists
Battle of the Styles: Le Corbusier and Ernest Troubridge
Miami Baroque: The Architecture of Maurice Lapidus
Good and bad pottery: Alan Caiger-Smith and Grayson Perry
Prince Charles and the Architecture of Good Manners
Making Britain Great Again: The Margaret Thatcher Era (V&A)
Contrasted Bodies: Alberto Giacometti and Fernando Botero
(or maybe Ample Bodies: Gaston Lachaise and Fernando Botero)
The Male Gaze: Alberto Vargas and Mel Ramos.

Ernest Trobridge, Buck Lane, Kingsbury, London, ca. 1920s.

And major retrospectives of any of the following:
Félicien Rops; Frank Brangwyn (outside Brugge); Frank O. Salisbury; Rowland Hilder; Albert Speer; John Bratby; Rolf Harris; Beryl Cook; Thomas Kinkade; Margaret Keane.

And major exhibitions I hope will never be put on: Bob Dylan; George W. Bush; the watercolours of Prince Charles; Winston Churchill, painter; anything by or about Patti Smith or Derek Jarman.

Great art historical juxtapositions somehow avoided by curators:
William Holman Hunt, The Scapegoat; Robert Rauschenberg, Monogram.
Edward Burne-Jones, The Golden Stairs; Marcel Duchamp, Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2.
Pablo Picasso, Guernica; Frank O. Salisbury, The Coronation of King George VI (both 1937).
Alfred Stevens, Valour and Cowardice; Sesame Street Workshop, Oscar the Grouch.

What did a French photographic connoisseur say when he was shown a Fox Talbot calotype? “C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas Daguerre!”

What is Rodin’s yummiest sculpture? The Burgers of Calais.

Art to charm your vegan friends: The Butcher’s Shop (Annibale Carracci); almost anything by Snyders, Oudry or Damien Hirst; Carcass of Beef (Chaim Soutine); and of course, Figure with Meat (Francis Bacon).

Added Joke (Rather, Five Added Jokes! Ed.)

The singer Shirley Bassey had an intellectual side, little known to her many fans. She was an avid reader of British poetry of the 1930s. Hence her famous hit, “Hey, Big Spender!”

A Hitler witticism: “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Röhm was destroyed in a night!”

13th century political gossip: “My friend Lance is a bit of a leftie… Doesn’t believe those vilains are villains and he signed the Magna Carta, don’t you know!”

A famous politically correct Anglo-Saxon: Hereward the Woke.


Dr Mark Stocker is a former academic and art curator who lives in New Zealand. Besides his jokes, he has 230 marginally more serious publications, many of which are on Victorian public monuments, numismatics and New Zealand art. His book When Britain Went Decimal: The Coinage of 1971 will be published by the Royal Mint in 2021.


The featured image shows, “The Laughing Boy (Jopie van Slouten),” by Robert Henri; painted in 1910.

The Wit Collection: Art History Jokes 7

Again, I selflessly offer valuable hints on how to grasp the majesty of these jokes, invaluable for those unfortunate enough not to be of British origin.

Sir Ken Dodd was an anarchic, energetic comedian with his roots in the music hall and Liverpool, albeit with a touch of the Surreal about him. Margaret Thatcher was an unlikely fan. Bernard Leach (potter) and Barbara Hepworth (sculptor) were near neighbours for many years in St Ives, their modernist good taste positively suffocating. Painter Patrick Herron was another neighbour and friend. The legendary Clement Greenberg went to visit them; and I like the notion of him gulping down a Cornish pasty.

Across the pond, the original version of ‘Nobody’s Child’ was by US country legend Hank Snow; a mawkish cover by Karen Young was a big British hit in 1969. At school, I would sing it word (and note) perfect, nude, in the changing room after swimming, oblivious to the jeers from vulgar boys. For a hefty fee, I am willing to stage a comeback appearance…


What did Clement Greenberg say to the angry St Ives School critic attacking the Ab Ex’s as charlatans?
Keep your Herron.

Sir Ken Dodd, in a cavalier mood.

What was Sir William Orpen’s favourite pop song?
Nobody’s Child.


Who is the Newnham College, Cambridge, First VIII captain who proudly traces her ancestry back to a great architect?
Miss van de Rower, and it’s now the First IV because fewer are more!


Two good UK car registration numbers for feminist art historians:
MOR150 MAR150L
And one for a gothic revivalist:
PUG1N


Surprising as it may seem, Bernard Berenson was a big fan of Ken Dodd. This was reflected in the farewell greeting he would invariably dispense to visitors to his opulent Tuscan villa:
Tatti-bye, everybody, Tatti-bye!”


Dr Stocker’s admonition to Van Gogh’s rather glum Potato Eaters:
Hey, cheer up guys, those are great organic, freshly dug Jersey Bennies, and you’ve got crème brûlée for afters! (Mark Stocker is a Van Gogh fan, but Vincent van Gogh was a great painter).

Vincent van Gogh, The Potato Eaters.

What did the Telegraph book reviewer call the Marxist art historian T.J. Clark?
The Absolute Bore.


How would you describe the intellectual condition of a Berkeley art history student on their Italian Summer School Semester, c. 1968–69?
Ruskinian, i.e. Stoned in Venice.


What is the name of Lucian’s masterpiece of a young lady in her underwear?
A Freudian Slip.

Lucian Freud, Girl with a white dog (the closest you get to a Freudian slip).

Conversation between two doctoral students of Abstract Expressionism:
‘This painting is black and white and red all over.’
“Well, it’s a bleeding Kline, innit?!”


Barbara Hepworth to Bernard Leach:
“So, whassup today, Bernie?”
“Just pottering around!”


It’s Christmas in Berlin, 1913. What does Santa say to Kirchner’s street-walkers? Ho! Ho! Ho!


MOMA’s new head of Comms, naturally a great Greenberg admirer and foodie, has just come up with a winning new promo slogan:
MOMA: Avant-Garde and Quiche!


Dr Mark Stocker is a former academic and art curator who lives in New Zealand. Besides his jokes, he has 230 marginally more serious publications, many of which are on Victorian public monuments, numismatics and New Zealand art. His book When Britain Went Decimal: The Coinage of 1971 will be published by the Royal Mint in 2021.


The featured image shows, “Selbstbildnis, lachend” (Self-portrait, Laughing) by Richard Gerstl, paintedsummer/autumn, 1907.

The Wit Collection: Art History Jokes 6

As usual, I have been invited to submit some prefatory comments in regard to the assorted jeux d’esprit below. The first one may best be explained visually. Disaffected radicals, whether in 1821 or 2021, as Postil readers would agree, are a load of silly berks. The Wigan Casino represented the heart of the Northern Soul movement, in its pomp when I was a Cambridge undergraduate. Had I possessed any dancing prowess, I might have ventured forth to its talc-dusted floor, but Little Richard’s hit “Slippin’ and Slidin’’’ would have been the operative concept in my case. Pray forgive the artistic licence taken with April Love. As the better educated of you will know, this isn’t a sculpture but a famous painting by the Pre-Raphaelite Arthur Hughes (as well as a hit record a century later by Pat Boone). But let nothing impede yet another of one’s outstanding jokes…


A visitor came to see my art collection the other day. He wasn’t especially friendly. When I let him in, he demanded: “Take me to your Leader!”

Benjamin Williams Leader, February Fill Dyke, 1881.

According to disaffected radicals of the early 19th century, “British politics is just the Pitts!”


The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, has decided to prioritize the acquisition of works of art by people of colour. It has therefore just purchased a Matisse.


How might one best describe the relationship between Raphael and the Baker’s Daughter? Fornarinacation.


What was the name of Rubens’s voluptuous second wife?
Helene For Men.


What do art historical buffs call Hotel du Lac?
Brookner’s Fourth.


Who was Oscar Wilde’s favourite art critic?
Maxime Du Camp.


What was did Anthony Caro’s bumper sticker say?
Less is Moore.


And that of the philosopher who was into Northern Soul?
Hegel don’t bother me.

C. Gleeson, A Recollection of Wigan Casino, 2016.

When a well-known, very brittle artist staged a one-man exhibition, the Norge News art critic responded with hostility. The headline read: “Munch Crackers!”


An art history student visits the optometrist.
Student: I’m feeling nauseous, everything I see looks wavy or spotty and it’s all in perpetual motion.
Optometrist: You must have been doing an assignment on Bridget Riley. Focus on Malevich or Reinhardt instead!


At David Watkin’s requiem mass, the RC priest delivered a fine sermon entitled, “Mortality and architecture.”


What was Petrarch’s favourite pop song?
Tell Laura I Love Her.


Look at my fabulous Art Deco figurine. It’s a chow-chow by Pompon!


Who made the sentimental 19th century statuette April Love?
August Kiss.

Arthur Hughes, April Love, 1855.

Dr Mark Stocker is a former academic and art curator who lives in New Zealand. Besides his jokes, he has 230 marginally more serious publications, many of which are on Victorian public monuments, numismatics and New Zealand art. His book When Britain Went Decimal: The Coinage of 1971 will be published by the Royal Mint in 2021.


The featured image shows, “Woman Smiling,’ by Augustus John, painted ca. 1908-1909.

The Wit Collection: Art History Jokes 5

One or two of the jokes that follow may be a little esoteric, so here are a few hints for readers who are not necessarily versed in the British world of art history. Hans Coper was a remarkable, modern ceramicist, whose Brancusian bowls would not have met with the approval of arch(itecture) traditionalist, the late Dr. David Watkin, who was one of this gag-writer’s mentors when he studied History of Art at Cambridge. Lastly, the Rossetti joke presupposes a knowledge of Cockney rhyming slang, e.g., “What a load of Jackson Pollocks” (i.e., rubbish) and “Brahms and Liszt” (inebriated). Any further explanations would seem otiose.

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A celebrated Anglo-German studio potter was showing off a lovely vase to a customer when – no! – he dropped it on the floor.
Beholding the smithereens, the customer said “That’s shattering!”
But the potter’s reaction was perfectly calm, even smiling: “Stay cool! I’m a Coper!”

Hans Coper, Bottle, ca. 1958.

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What did her great friend say to comfort Lucie Rie when she had just smashed a vase in the studio?
“You need Hans!” [Her reply: “Max Bygraves? No thanks!”]

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Which French 19th century sculptor had a notoriously bad temper?
David d’Angers, who sometimes veered on Rude.

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What did a Royalist critic say of the Marseillaise?
Very Rude – she shouldn’t be pointing!

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Visitor to the 1844 Royal Academy: “Ah, it’s called Rain, Steam and Speed! What a brilliant Turner phrase!”

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What did Rossetti say when his fellow Pre-Raphaelite annoyed him?
“You stupid Holman Hunt!”

Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Ecce Ancilla Domini, 1850.

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Who was the eminent, high camp 18th century art connoisseur who uncannily anticipated Pop Art?
Sir Horace Warhol.

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What did the mugger say to James Tissot?
“Watch out!”

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Edwin Landseer was a mental wreck. He told his shrink in a horse voice: “Oh deer! I’ve been dogged by the cattiness of pig-headed critics!”

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What did David Watkin scathingly call Pevsner?
Sir Knickerless.

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How did Sir Nikolaus Pevsner summarise a High Victorian Gothic railway station he intensely disliked?
Cancer of the Pancras. Terminal.

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What was Sir Herbert Read’s intellectual response towards a Merz installation by Kurt Schwitters?
What a load of rubbish!

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Q. What do you think of the Guggenheim building?
A. All Wright I suppose, but it cuts corners…

Dr Mark Stocker is a former academic and art curator who lives in New Zealand. Besides his jokes, he has 230 marginally more serious publications, many of which are on Victorian public monuments, numismatics and New Zealand art. His book When Britain Went Decimal: The Coinage of 1971 will be published by the Royal Mint in 2021.

The featured image shows, “Three Men with a Woman Holding a Cat,” attributed to Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo, ca. 16th century.

The Wit Collection: Art History Jokes 4

“I have nothing to declare but my jokes!” (Dr Mark Stocker, shortly before being beaten up by customs officials)

In this latest episode, before you crack(er) up, I may need to provide a few hints to my many fans. One of the jokes will particularly amuse Elvis fans. Len Lye remains a bit of a cult figure but was an extraordinary film and kinetic sculpture maker – a bit of a pseud, maybe. The Prince Albert one is a variant on quite a famous joke, so bear with me there. Another avails itself of Cockney rhyming slang, and once they comprehend it, a few chaste maidens may blush…

Mrs. Baring is somewhat exasperated with Dr. Stocker’s jokes. [The Honourable Mrs Cecil Baring, by Ambrose McEvoy, painted in 1916].

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What was Oliver Cromwell’s insouciant reaction to Puritan iconoclasm in one of Britain’s most beautiful cathedrals?
“Well, well, Wells!

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What was the Herts Advertiser’s response to Edmund Beckett (Lord Grimthorpe)’s drastic Gothic Revival restoration of St Albans Abbey?
“Murder in the Cathedral.”

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Caption for Norman Rockwell’s Girl with a Black Eye:
Art history student who was involved in a heated argument about the Assisi problem and knows she’s right.

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A famous but sensitive Trecento painter had a studio accident, resulting in an altarpiece panel being irreparably ruined.
His sweet little daughter comforted him:
“You may have lost your tempera but don’t cry, Daddi!”

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Alternative title to Herbert Draper’s Ulysses and the Sirens:
Allegory of the patriarchy and the women’s art movement.

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What did Roger Fry call his watch repair business?
The Omega Workshops.

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How did the Victorian painter/engraver W.P. Frith describe the threatening new medium?’
“Foe to graphic art!” (not original)

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What was the punch-line of a famous royal photographer?
Snowdon, never Beaton.

Dick Frizzell, Amazing Grace, 2017.

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What was the nickname of a much-loved Victorian woman photographer?
Julia Margaret Camera.

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When an eminent Marxist art historian, Professor Joe N. Lye (cousin of Len) was asked about the influence of Jacques-Louis David on art history, he replied: “It’s too early to tell.”

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A reactionary critical response to a realist masterpiece by Honoré Daumier: “Third-class, untrained painter, doesn’t know his station!”

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What did the thief of Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington brilliantly succeed in conveying?
The significance of the negative space in art.

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Prince Albert is re-landscaping Buckingham Palace, and it being the late 1840s, is keen to give work to the distressed Irish. Through his good friend Lord Kilburn he has found an admirable landscape architect, Seamus O’Connor. When the two meet, landscaping is in full flight and Seamus fulsomely sings his men’s praises…

‘”’ve got all the best Irish diggers, Sir – green side up, Paddy! All the best Irish shrubs and seedlings – green side up, Paddy! And my men will do you most beautiful Irish herbaceous borders, Sir – green…!”

“Sehr gut, Herr O’Connor, but why you ask the Paddy for the green side up?”

“Ah, Sir, he’s just laying down the lawn!”

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I was shocked to see a conservator cleaning a dark old baroque painting with a toothbrush. I asked her “What’s the problem?”
She replied: “Mola decay!”

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What did the art historian say when he was told he’d won the
Lotto?
“Terrific! Is it an Annunciation?”

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After the triumphant Gothic rebuild of St Denis, the holy anthem played to serenade the great Abbot was quite pointed:
Suger, Suger (by the Archies).

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What did Rossetti say when his fellow Pre-Raphaelite annoyed him?
“You stupid Holman Hunt!”

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Who was the eminent, high camp 18th century art connoisseur who uncannily anticipated Pop Art?
Sir Horace Warhol.

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What did the mugger say to James Tissot?
“Watch out!”

The image shows, Austin Osman Spare and Witch, by Austin Osman Spare, painted in 1947.

The Wit Collection: Art History Jokes 3

In case you afeared that this month would pass witless, Dr. Mark Stocker offers these jocular japes that will leave you simpering behind your mask.

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Who was the sculptor whose life-cast toppled over?
Sir Antony Gormless.

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What was William Morris’s response to Art Nouveau?
What Liberty!

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If Hogarth were alive today, what would his patriotic masterpiece depict?
O the Chicken Tikka Masala of Old England.

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How did a Marxist critic describe a sculpture of a small spider?
Very petit Bourgeois!

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When he was seated on his splendid new throne, the Emperor Charlemagne was asked by a thoughtful cleric if it was comfortable.
“No, terrible!” he replied, “Aix all over!”

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If a Golden Age Dutch artist had ever turned his hand to watercolour, critics would surely admire “de wet-on-wet of de Wet.”

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And Now For Something Completely Different… Yes, Mother-in-law Jokes!

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The wife: “Mother’s coming to stay next week; she’ll be sleeping upstairs.”
Me: “Thank god we haven’t fixed that hole in the roof!”

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The wife: “It’s Mother’s birthday very soon, she’ll want to dine out!”
Me: “I’ll book her a table for one at McDonalds when they have the next free pensioners’ night!”

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The mother-in-law and me gave each other books for Christmas. I gave her two crime novels, Strong Poison and The Beast Must Die. To her credit, and she’s a bit of an intellectual, like, she gave me Dostoevsky’s The Idiot.

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For my mother-in-law’s birthday, I gave her a framed reproduction of a fabulous Paulus Potter, so she can see herself in it.

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For Christmas, she wanted something with cheery Santa red, so she got a nice reproduction of Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion.

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And Moving Right Along…

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A disturbed gentleman, a certain Mr Stocker, visits the trick cyclist. He complains:
“Doctor, people say I think I’m an animal – a dog to be precise. It’s true that I can’t stand that new postman.”
“They no doubt think you’re barking mad. But we take this condition more seriously in the profession, Mr Stocker, and let me reassure you that it is amenable to treatment. Please sit yourself on the couch.”
“I’m sorry, Doctor, but I’m not allowed on the couch.” [Thank you, Tommy Cooper!]

Tommy Cooper at Madame Tussauds.

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Art world figures and their favourite diners:
The great Baroque exponent: Bernini Inn.
The great Renaissance medallist: Pizzanello Hut.
The great Marxist critic: Berger King.

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Charlotte Corday was a frugal soul. What was on the other side of the note to Marat that the public never see?
Apple [get it?], snails, frogs’ legs, 1 carton plonk, oven ready French fries, 1 kilo finely guillotined mince.

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An optimist on board the Raft of the Medusa chirps:
‘Hey guys, thank god we’re not on a cruise ship in 2020!’

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Dr Stocker was lecturing on Cézanne in Nelson, New Zealand: “You can see in these still life paintings how gravely he conveyed the quintessence of apples, the appleness of apples, as it were…”
Nelson orchardist: “Yeah right. Are they Granny Smiths or Coxes, mate?”

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What was the response of Sir Alfred Munnings to the nomination of Henry Moore to the Royal Academy?
Na-aa-ay! (in a hoarse voice).

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How could you best describe the influence of Moore and Hepworth on British sculpture?
Holesome.

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Who were William Morris’s greatest disciples?
C.R. Ashbee, Ernest Gimson, C.F.A. Voysey and Laura Ashley.
[That’s not a joke, it’s true!]

The image shows Two Women at a Window, by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, painted ca. 1665-1670.

Muddled Metaphors

A brief medley of mixed metaphors, all rather fun to untangle, or better yet – visualize!

“It would open up a can of worms and a legal minefield about freedom, religion and equalities legislation… It may open up old wounds and put people into the trenches; no one wants that.” David Burrowes, Conservative MP, on gay marriage, 17 January 2012.

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“Labour are fighting like rats in a barrel.” Charlie Elphicke, Conservative MP, 16 February 2014.

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“I don’t like it. When you open that Pandora’s box, you will find it full of Trojan horses.” Ernest Bevin, Labour Foreign Secretary, on the idea of a Council of Europe, 1948.

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“I’m kickstarting a drive to get employee ownership into the bloodstream.” Nick Clegg, 17 January 2012.

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“Far-right vacuum could trigger ‘lone-wolf’ attacks.” Independent headline, 29 December 2012.

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“They’ve put all their eggs in one basket and it’s misfired.” Paul Merson, Sky football pundit, of West Ham’s purchase of Andy Carroll. From Vincent Clark.

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“Out of the hat on Monday night the Home Secretary produced the rabbit, the temporary provisions Bill, as her fig leaf to cover her major U-turn.” Simon Hughes, Lib Dem MP, 2008.

These are courtesy of the Independent.

The image shows Trial & Error, Meredith Frampton, painted in 1939.

The Wit Collection: Art History Jokes 2

Dr. Mark Stocker continues his merriment this month, with just a few more arty(?), artsy(?) jokes. Here he is, then, thrumming his wit for Thalia…

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What was Angelica Kauffmann’s advertising slogan?… Put the Madam into Adam!

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Which fin-de-siècle German artist is especially admired for his tenacity?… Max Klinger.

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What is the name of the lovely new bathroom in Wardour Castle designed by the son of Sir Terence Conran?… Jasper’s John.

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What did the unemployed 19th century French art historian say when she landed a job at the zoo?… “Je suis pleine de Bonheur!”

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Scene: The pearly gates of heaven…
The late David Watkin: You’re a very fetching guardian angel, but I have to tell you I observe a solecism in that portico.
Angel: Sorry Dave, our quota of architectural historians of the classical tradition is full. On yer bike!

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Exhibition installer: I’m looking for a painter who will enhance the red tints of this wall.
Curator: Use Henner!

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A well-known and obliging late Victorian architect would tell his clients:
“Shaw will do! But by George it won’t be bad. You could always go to the Webb site, and if you need an indoor pool, there’s obviously Waterhouse!”

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What was John Bratby’s response to the impact of Abstract
Expressionism?… A sinking feeling.

Dr. Stocker describes this painting by John Bratby as “iconic” which makes us at The Postil slightly worried about his spiritual beliefs.

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What is the name of the latest book on Bratby and the Kitchen Sinkers?…
Life is a Lavatory, Old Chum.

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John Bratby was a hugely popular artist throughout the UK, whose fame and acclaim stretched from Bogside, Londonderry to Looe, Cornwall.

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In order to laugh even more uproariously at Dr Stocker’s jokes about John Bratby, find out more about this fascinating artist courtesy of the Daily Mail.

Dr Mark Stocker is a former academic and art curator who lives in New Zealand. Besides his jokes, he has 230 marginally more serious publications, many of which are on Victorian public monuments, numismatics and New Zealand art. His book When Britain Went Decimal: The Coinage of 1971 will be published by the Royal Mint in 2021.

The image shows La Clairvoyance, by René Magritte, painted in 1936.

The Wit Collection: Art History Jokes 1

Few academics write jokes about their discipline; their publication is not perhaps a certain pathway to tenure or promotion. It may even be worse than coming out as a conservative.

Art historian Dr. Mark Stocker decided, however, that enough was enough. He has written over 200 jokes and sought to publish them. After numerous rebuffs from newspapers, professional journals and even blogs, he has at last found a saviour in the Postil Magazine.

As too many jokes may be injurious to the health, he proposes drip-feeding five a month over the next few months – or if necessary years, as more may well be written. Should any readers outside the discipline find the jokes a touch esoteric, Dr Stocker is willing to explain them – with a smile on his face. He may be contacted through this magazine.

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Who is the god-awful, deadly French theorist that hip art historians so liked to quote, c. 1980? … Bourdieu.

Which resort did an eminent, quirky Bauhaus painter like to go to for his holidays? …Kleethorpes.

Who was the boss of the aforementioned Bauhaus painter who got into trouble for inappropriate behaviour? … Walter Gropius.

What was Gertrude’s favourite drink in Parisian cafes, c. 1912? … Steinlager.

A philosophically contorted art historian was asked to give a lecture on Belgian Symbolist sculpture. He commenced his lecture thus: ‘What do I mean by Minne?’

Matty taking Dr. Stocker out for a stroll at their friend Jane’s estate, in Cust, New Zealand

Dr Mark Stocker is a former academic and art curator who lives in New Zealand. Besides his jokes, he has 230 marginally more serious publications, many of which are on Victorian public monuments, numismatics and New Zealand art. His book When Britain Went Decimal: The Coinage of 1971 will be published by the Royal Mint in 2021.

The image shows, “Youth Making A Face” by Adriaen Brouwer, painted ca. 1632–1635.