laughter is contagious

Mark Twain once said that “[Humanity] has unquestionably one really effective weapon—laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution—these can lift at a colossal humbug—push it a little—weaken it a little, century by century, but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.” Laughter is an almost tangible entity in the every world. It has immeasurable power over us as human beings. The power to bring a man to his knees, or shift the viewpoints of countless individuals. For instance in Saudi Arabian political suppression and tradition hinder public gatherings, however stand-up comedy is breaching those boundaries. The shows take place out in the desert, sometimes fifty odd miles from civilization, and draw crowds of upwards of 800 people. It is to this uniting force that is the focus of my gallery.

"With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come"- William Shakespeare. No matter someone's age, the miracle of laughter will have influence over them. I have chosen "The Laughing Boy" by Robert Henri to reflect this characteristic. The painting itself contains a large amount of empty space, which is countered by the bright reds of the boys face, namely his cheeks. This works to bring your attention immediately to his joyous face.
"We don’t laugh because we’re happy, we are happy because we laugh"— William James. Laughter brings with it many gifts. It is uplifting, it rids us of our stress, it heals us, it brings us together. I feel that this sentiment is reflected by Rembrandt's self-portrait. The fact that the artist depicts himself laughing shows he is aware of its importance in everyday life.
"When you do laugh, open your mouth wide enough for the noise to get out without squealing, throw your head back as though you were going to be shaved, hold on to your false hair with both hands and then laugh till your soul gets thoroughly rested." — Josh Billings I included this work in my gallery because I felt it immediately captures ones attention. At first glance the subject appears almost frightening, but upon reading deeper into the work you can almost feel his genuine glee. It is as if he has just pulled a prank on his sleeping friend, and is snickering with an accomplice
"Laughter is the shortest distance between two people" -Victor Borge No matter what someones nationality is, social level or their past experiences, laughter is capable of bringing us all together. I feel that Vermeer's "Officer and Laughing Girl" represents the social gap that can be breached by a shared laugh. It also reflects the importance of humor in courtship.
"Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort" - Franklin D. Roosevelt To inspire mirth and laughter within another is one of the less mentioned pleasures of our lives. To inspire joy and laughter within yourself is only slightly harder to accomplish. Peter Wtewael's "Laughing Man with Flute" represents both of these occurences.
"The point is seeing that THIS — the immediate, everyday and present experience — is IT, the entire and ultimate point for the existence of a universe. I believe that if this state of consciousness could become more universal, the pretentious nonsense which passes for the serious business of the world would dissolve in laughter" -Alan Watts It is of dire importance that we never take ourselves too seriously. We must laugh at ourselves and poke fun, for we are just talking monkeys on a rock, and that's pretty funny. I included Jan Steen's "Rhetoricians at a Window" because I feel the entertainers and comedians are of vital importance in our society.
"Money has never made a man happy, nor will it, there is nothing in its nature to produce happiness." - Benjamin Franklin A man does not have to be rich to be happy. In fact, money often births greed rather than joy. Adriaen van Ostade's "A Laughing Peasant" is testament to this. The man depicted is evidently not wealthy in the way of gold, but is rich in joy.
"The wit makes fun of other persons; the satirist makes fun of the world; the humorist makes fun of himself, but in so doing, he identifies himself with people – that is, people everywhere, not for the purpose of taking them apart, but simply revealing their true nature. The wellspring of laughter is not happiness, but pain, stress, and suffering" — James Thurber Judging from the boys warm smile and ostentatious hat, he has found freedom from his ego. I have chosen Abraham Bleomaert's "Boy with Rumbling Pot" to stress the importance of being able to laugh at oneself. The inability to do so will undoubtedly prove fatal.
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