Political prints in the Dutch Republic »

Comedians, editorial cartoons and memes harness the power of satire, parody and hyperbole to provoke laughter, outrage and even action. These forms of expression are rooted in the unprecedented freedom of artistic expression of the Dutch Republic in the 17th century.

Fake news and misleading images: political printed matter in the Dutch Republic explores the complex visual strategies used by early modern Dutch printmakers to shape public opinion around historical events, create political heroes and villains, and form consensus for collective action. Deeply rooted in the politics of their time, the impact of these prints goes beyond the 17th century to resonate with contemporary visual culture.

Dutch engravers used trolling tactics long before the invention of the internet, hiding damaging information, telling outright lies and ridiculing public figures using strategies employed by cartoonists, comedians and creators of disinformation about social networks today. These prints could stoke collective unrest and even violence – impacts that the images continue to have today.

The Krannert Art Museum (KAM) invites engagement with these topics through an international symposium on early modern global political art on October 20-21. The all-hybrid event features keynote addresses from Liza Oliver and Dawn O’Dell. Registration is now open for both in-person and virtual sessions.

The museum will also host an in-person panel discussion on Dec. 1, “Political Cartoons in the Age of Fake News: Bringing Laughs While Speaking Truth to Power,” featuring the Pulitzer Prize winner. Washington Post cartoonist Ann Telnaes; Keith Knight, whose work inspired the Hulu series “Woke”; and printmaker Eric J. Garcia of the Instituto Gráfico de Chicago and the Veteran Art Movement. The discussion will be moderated by Stacey Robinson, an Afro-futurist artist and associate professor of graphic design at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Maureen E. Warren, curator and KAM curator of European and American art, is the editor and lead author of a book accompanying the exhibition, Paper cutter, paper crownsavailable through DAP Artbook.

Fake news and misleading images: political printed matter in the Dutch Republic is on view through December 17 at the Krannert Art Museum at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Made possible with the financial support of the Getty Foundation through The Paper Project and Dutch Culture USA. For more information and a complete list of sponsors, visit kam.illinois.edu.

Mildred D. Field