Focusing on the artistic impulse to exaggerate and distort realistic features, characteristics, and situations, this exhibition encompasses images of the grotesque, caricature, and satire. Such artistic devices take on many forms: the tragic and comic, the ridiculous and sublime, the horrible and ludicrous, and the realistic and fantastic. Whereas some scenes of exaggeration focus solely on the distortion of facial features, others parody specific people and character types, often as commentaries on the political, social, or moral foibles of society.
The Art of Exaggeration comprises works on paper spanning the 16th to 20th centuries, with examples by artists from Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Jusepe de Ribera to Francisco de Goya, René Magritte, and Pablo Picasso. The exhibition also highlights major artists from the genre's heyday in the 18th and early 19th centuries, such as Honoré Daumier, James Gillray, and William Hogarth. The graphic works on view are drawn primarily from the collections of the MFAH and Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation.