The Museum of Avant-garde

Gerald Scarfe

Born and raised in London, Gerald Scarfe is one of the most prolific, diverse and witty illustrators. Named by Press Gazette amongst the top 40 most influential journalists of the UK, he is also RDI and CBE, the highest recognitions of career achievements in the UK. From the first steps of his long career to today’s latest publications, his work still retains an untameable stamina that makes his illustrations so powerful and relatable. Loaded with the very essence of British humour, his satirical caricatures for Private Eye and The Sunday Times are acute representations of our time and the current affairs of those years.

In 1974 Pink Floyd commissioned him to work on their UK and US tours: it was the beginning of a long collaboration that led to some of Scarfe’s most iconic illustrations and animations for the ‘In the Flesh’ tour and the music video ‘Welcome to the Machine’. His distinctive style translated across 2D and 3D mediums, covering animations, physical stage props and film sequences for The Wall – becoming synonymous with fearless attacks on the establishment, and so invading the collective imagination of the following decades. Much of Scarfe’s work is deeply intertwined with the British and international political scene, such as his illustrations about the Vietnam War, the political British satire Yes Minister and even his open condemnation of Netanyahu’s policies.

In 2003 a unique collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery and the BBC gave him the opportunity to produce more than 30 portraits of famous British personalities throughout history – Heroes and Villains – and it makes for an incredible collection to read history through Scarfe’s eyes. His talent and creativity have also been deployed in television, film, opera and theatre productions - including being production designer on Walt Disney’s ‘Hercules’ - and even radio programmes for BBC4.