How Small Labels Can Lead to Big Laughs!
Learn about the special challenges involved in creating the labels for the exhibition Chapleau, Profession: Cartoonist.
Among the many activities required to design and mount an exhibition, preparing short labels can seem somewhat unimportant. However, these concise, understated descriptions designed to accentuate the objects on display are essential. The labels provide the information visitors need to identify the work and its creator. Consequently, these texts must be crafted with great care to ensure the accuracy of the information presented (creator, title, type of object, date, dimensions, technique, accession number, etc.).
Labels are primarily created with the data used to catalogue the object following its acquisition by the Museum. Given the unique nature of the works to be presented in the exhibition Chapleau, Profession: Cartoonist, we decided to compose a longer version of the title for each cartoon. The idea is to provide some background information to complement the drawing itself. Some of the cartoons displayed date back to the 1970s, which means visitors will not always be familiar with the events that inspired them. For the humour to be effective, we therefore felt it was necessary to provide a few clues to help them better understand the joke and enjoy a good laugh!
One series of cartoons in particular, however, presented quite a challenge. In the 1970s and 1990s, Chapleau drew cartoons for the weekly magazines Perspectives and 7 Jours. While the drawings that appeared daily in La Presse or Le Devoir generally referred to events that can be found by rereading newspapers from that era, those published in Perspectives and 7 Jours were inspired less by specific current events and more by the personality traits of the entertainment stars featured in the magazines in question.
Cartoon published in 7 Jours, 1992. Gift of Serge Chapleau, M996.10.591 © McCord Museum
Cartoon published in 7 Jours, 1991. Gift of Serge Chapleau, M2003.143.217 © McCord Museum
Cartoon published in Perspectives, May 13, 1972. Gift of Serge Chapleau, M998.51.7 © McCord Museum
Cartoon published in 7 Jours, January 26, 1991. Gift of Serge Chapleau, M996.10.190 © McCord Museum
Cartoon published in 7 Jours, March 17, 1990. Gift of Serge Chapleau, M2003.143.218 © McCord Museum
Some of these cartoons have aged well. People today still recognize the eccentricities of singer-songwriter Jean Leloup and the sometimes overconfidence of Denise Bombardier. In other cases, however, it was necessary to dive deeper into the spirit of the times to recall, for example, how some people eventually tired of television host Réal Giguère’s ubiquitous presence on the small screen, how singer Michel Rivard’s multiple hits in the early 1990s ended up going to his head, or how hockey player Guy Lafleur was so attached to his legendary mane of hair that he decided to become a spokesman for a hair loss clinic. That being said, despite the challenges, it was a true pleasure to rediscover the faces of Quebec’s favourite stars from 30 or 50 years ago.