The 20th century brought about huge shifts in the world of fine art, thanks to the technological and cultural changes over those 100 years, but Jessica Campbell isn’t interested in evaluating the merits of the actual artwork in her new graphic novel Hot Or Not: 20th-Century Male Artists. The majority of the major artists during this time are men, and Campbell subjects those men to the objectification women have had to deal with for pretty much all of history by judging them on their physical appearances rather than the quality of their creations. The result is a hilarious, slyly subversive exploration of subjectivity, and the criticisms ultimately reveal more about the critic than they do the artists.
This preview of Hot Or Not spotlights some of the figures in the Geometric Abstraction section of the book, and the nonrepresentational nature of the art makes the assessments of the artists especially far-fetched and very funny. The works of Kazimir Malevich, Piet Mondrian, and Barnett Newman reveal nothing about what they actually look like, but that doesn’t stop Campbell from making assumptions anyway, most of which are disproven by the actual images of the artists. While the format may seem simple, it allows Campbell to control the comic timing exceptionally well, with each “Hot Or Not” reveal occurring after the page turn to accentuate the punch lines. Readers can revel in Campbell’s sense of humor when Hot Or Not: 20th-Century Male Artists hits stands later this month, complete with a cover featuring scratch-off underwear because Campbell can’t wait to get her audience laughing.