Savoy Books 
Gerald Scarfe

Gerald Scarfe


b/w and colour art

304mm x 225mm

Soft cover

First publication

Published by Thames and Hudson


ISBN 0 500 27268 9

Gerald Scarfe

  When Savoy raised the idea of a new collection Mr Scarfe was very co-operative. His last book had appeared fourteen years earlier (Peter Owen, 1966). Gerald Scarfe is the most technically brilliant and savage of the cartoonists who came out of the satire boom of the Sixties. With Francis Bacon he was, at the time, Britain's most challenging artist. We met with him a number of times, to help in the new title's assembly, at his house on Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, where his original artwork was stored. It was a great honour to handle these legendary drawings, the very same ones that had radically changed the way we perceive our celebrities and leaders. We planned to package the book to Big O Publishing, publishers of H R Giger's Necronomicon, but Big O collapsed. Instead, we set up an introduction between Scarfe and New English Library, who arranged a board meeting to convince Scarfe of the suitability of a joint Savoy/NEL publication. The chemistry didn't work, and the collection eventually found an excellent home with Thames & Hudson. But we did get to have tea and scones with Jane Asher.

 Beardsley by Scarfe
One of the pictures which would have been a part of the Savoy volume but was omitted from the Thames & Hudson book was this stunning portrait of Aubrey Beardsley, a rare example of one brilliant black and white artist depicting another. To the best of our knowledge, this has yet to appear in any other appraisal of Scarfe's work; we present it here for the benefit of all aficionados of the black line on the white page.



"With Gerald Scarfe (Thames & Hudson, 1982) we leave these small personal lives for a full-scale attack on the cosmos; even on the front cover the world leaks blood. This is an anthology, a retrospective with many of the most famous images. Wilson returns to lick Johnson's arse, the gorillas stalk the streets of Manhattan, the gossip-column fly settles on the dung heap.

Scarfe was the greatest shocker of the satire boom. Does he still shock? The answer, I think, is sometimes. Many of the monsters he drew are dead or have retired into private life. In some cases his hate and rage seem unproductive, like slapping a corpse. Sometimes his tendency to distort features to the edge of incoherence defeats itself. We have to look to the captions to see who these junk heaps of suppurating spare parts actually represent.

Yet when dealing with universalities—with greed, cruelty, power he retains his ability to shake us out of complacency. Whenever his brilliant draughtsmanship and Swiftian disgust coincide, he approaches genius."


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