Joseph Addison Poser-Laughter

Accession Number

Joseph Addison Poser-Laughter

Paul Rand

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date
late 20th century

Medium & Support
silkscreen on paper

36 in x 24 in (91.44 cm x 60.96 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Franc Nunoo-Quarcoo and Maria Phillips

Subject matter
Joseph Addison was a noted British author who lived during the late-17th century. Paul Rand incorporates a quote from Addison which reads “Man is distinguished from all other creatures by the faculty of laughter.” Rand pairs a visual with the quote that at once demonstrates the validity of the statement and the fallacy of it. The laughing figure is not immediately identifiable as human or creature, and there is something unsettling about the figure. The disembodied grinning face appears similar to images from another British author, that of Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Both smiling figures share the same ambiguous mischievousness: is the figure laughing out of joy or malice?

EC 2017

Physical Description
A dark green poster with an enormous, smiling mouth and large, intense eyes in its center. At the bottom is a quote from Joseph Addison.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area
Modern and Contemporary

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