Liars and Loopholes: Beggars

7:00 PM

Liars and Loopholes
Subterfuge in Art
Curated by Tessia Phillips

Pieter Bruegel, Beggars, 1568

by Pieter Bruegel is less a visual cheat, and more of a social cheat. Bruegel adored peasants. He found them adorable, like a puppy or baby or American tourist. Though very wealthy, he used to dress up like a peasant so as to spend time with them and learn about their customs, lifestyles, and traditions. This was not to expand his social tolerance, however, but rather for his own entertainment, as he found them laughable.

This work heightens the vulnerability of beggars to make them almost comical. With peg legs and open-mouthed expressions, these beggars are barely functional, and made so to highlight their hilarity in Bruegel’s eyes. His loophole lies in his ability to turn a raging superiority complex into famous artwork. I’m definitely impressed by that aspect of this work. Bruegel fits in this collection beautifully in that he first lied to an entire class of people about his social status, then proceeded to make a fortune off of their exploitation.

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