Gerald Scarfe

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Gerald Scarfe
Birth name Gerald Anthony Scarfe
Born (1936-06-01) 1 June 1936 (age 77)
St John's Wood, London, England
Nationality British
Works Pink Floyd—The Wall (1982)

Gerald Anthony Scarfe, CBE, RDI, (born 1 June 1936) is an English cartoonist and illustrator. He has worked as editorial cartoonist for The Sunday Times and illustrator for The New Yorker.

His other work includes graphics for rock group Pink Floyd, particularly on their 1979 album The Wall, its 1982 film adaption, and tour (1980-81), as well as the music video for "Welcome to the Machine".[1][2] Scarfe was the production designer on the Disney animated feature, Hercules (1997).

He is married to Jane Asher, whom he met in 1971 and married in 1981.[3] They had a daughter in 1974 and two sons in 1982 and 1984.

Early life[edit]

Scarfe was born in St John's Wood, London,[4] and was severely asthmatic as a child. He spent many of his early years bed-ridden, and drawing became a means of entertainment as well as a creative outlet. It has been speculated that the grotesque and diseased images that often characterise his work are a result of these experiences. He has himself stated that the irreverence apparent in much of his work can be traced back to "dodgy treatments" and a reliance on what he feels were incompetent doctors.[5]

He moved to Hampstead at the age of 14, being influenced by the work of Ronald Searle. He went to Saint Martin's School of Art[6] (now part of the University of the Arts London) in Holborn, London. He also went to the London College of Printing and East Ham Technical College (became Newham College of Further Education).


Early work[edit]

After briefly working in advertising, a profession he grew to dislike intensely, Scarfe's early caricatures of public figures were published in satirical magazine Private Eye throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Beginning in 1960, he produced illustrations for Punch, The Evening Standard and The Daily Sketch. The Sunday Times magazine assigned Scarfe to cover the 1964 US Presidential election. He continued work for The Sunday Times for two years, also producing several cover illustrations for Time magazine.[7]

In the mid-1960s he took a job at the Daily Mail following a Dutch auction for his services with the Daily Express. His decision to work for the Daily Mail led to his estrangement from fellow cartoonist Ralph Steadman, alongside whom he had studied art at East Ham Technical College. Soon after, Steadman was commissioned to illustrate Scarfe and "produced an image that was half saint and half Superman, but with a disconnected heart".[8] Scarfe spent just a year working for the Daily Mail, during which time he was sent to provide illustrations from the Vietnam War.

Pink Floyd and Roger Waters[edit]

Scarfe was approached to work with Pink Floyd after Roger Waters and Nick Mason both saw his animated BBC film A Long Drawn Out Trip. Pink Floyd's 1974 programme for their tour in the UK and US, in the form of a comic, included a centre-spread caricature of the band. Scarfe later produced a set of animated short clips used on the 1977 In The Flesh tour, including a full-length music video for the song Welcome to the Machine.[9] He also drew the cover illustration for their 1979 album The Wall, and in 1982 worked on the film version of The Wall, although he and Waters fell out with director Alan Parker during the latter stages of editing. As well as the artwork, Scarfe contributed 15 minutes worth of elaborate animation to the film, including a sequence depicting the German bombing campaign over England during World War II, set to the song "Goodbye Blue Sky". He was also involved in the theatrical adaptation, including The Wall Concert in Berlin, where his animations were projected on a vast scale.

Scarfe continued to work with Roger Waters when he left Pink Floyd, creating the graphics and animation for Waters' solo album The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking (1984) and its supporting tour.

Scarfe's collaboration with Waters was marked in 2008 by the release of a signed limited-edition eight-print series, "Scarfe on the Wall", which contained a monograph book with an extended new interview with Scarfe and was signed by Roger Waters. Early editions of "Scarfe on The Wall" (by date of pre-order, not issue number) came with an additional print giving a total of nine in the set - making these the rarest and most valuable sets.[citation needed]

Yes Minister[edit]

He provided caricatures of Paul Eddington, Nigel Hawthorne and Derek Fowlds (as their respective characters) for the opening and closing sequences of Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister.


Scarfe was approached to work on the 1997 Disney film Hercules by Ron Clements and John Musker, longtime fans who had risen to prominence within Disney following the success of The Little Mermaid. Scarfe worked as a conceptual character artist, designing almost all of the characters and then supervising the 900 Disney artists charged with adapting his designs for the film.

Postage stamps[edit]

The Royal Mail used Scarfe's artwork for a set of five commemorative postage stamps, issued on 23 April 1998. Honoring British comedians, the stamps feature Scarfe caricatures of Tommy Cooper, Eric Morecambe, Joyce Grenfell, Les Dawson and Peter Cook.[10][11]

Millennium Dome sculpture[edit]

He was invited to create a sculpture for the Millennium Dome, which was entitled "Self Portrait". The Dome's chief executive PY Gerbeau said "it mirrors what we like — and what we don't — about our nation".[12]


Scarfe has designed sets for a number of operatic productions, including an adaptation of Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox. Following a chance meeting at a BBC prom he worked with Peter Hall on his version of Mozart's The Magic Flute, which drew critical acclaim. He is lined up to provide animation for Jim Steinman's Bat out of Hell, a stage show featuring Steinman's music.[13]

Scarfe also designed the sets and costumes for the English National Opera's 1988 production of Orpheus in the Underworld; among the costumes Scarfe designed were those of the characters Orpheus, Eurydice, and the Gods of Mount Olympus.

He also produced all the costume and scenery designs for the 2002 Christopher Hampson production of The Nutcracker, for the English National Ballet.

Heroes and Villains[edit]

In 2003 Scarfe collaborated with the National Portrait Gallery and BBC Four to make caricatures of a number of famous Britons, to depict (along with guest commentary) their heroic and villainous attributes. Amongst the over 30 portraits he depicted included caricatures of Henry VIII, Winston Churchill, Queen Elizabeth I, Pete Best, Richard Branson, Adam Smith, William Blake, The Beatles, Agatha Christie and Diana, Princess of Wales.

In 2009, he also created a caricature of James May out of Lego which was shown in episode 5 of James May's Toy Stories. Scarfe and Jane Asher also appeared in the episode.

Netanyahu cartoon[edit]

In its edition of 27 January 2013 (Britain's Holocaust Memorial Day), London's Sunday Times published a cartoon by Scarfe depicting Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paving a wall with the blood and bodies of Palestinians, captioned "Israeli elections—will cementing peace continue?"[14] The cartoon's timing and content was criticised by groups including the European Jewish Congress and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, with accusations of antisemitism being levelled against the cartoonist.[15][16] Unaware the cartoon would appear on Holocaust Memorial Day,[17] Scarfe argued that the cartoon was clearly aimed specifically at Netanyahu and his policies, and were in response to his election win, rather than being related to Holocaust Memorial Day.[18][19] The newspaper's proprietor, Rupert Murdoch, apologised for the cartoon on Twitter, and acting editor Martin Ivens promised to be more vigilant in future.[20]

The cartoon was also published in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, where Anshel Pfeffer discusses the cartoon in great detail, giving four reasons why, in his opinion, the cartoon is not antisemitic.[21] The writer Howard Jacobson denied it was anti-semitic.[22] However, British Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks condemned the cartoon.[23]

Awards and accolades[edit]

On 22 November 2005 the United Kingdom's Press Gazette named its 40 most influential journalists, and included Scarfe alongside just two other cartoonists, Carl Giles, and Matt Pritchett.[24]

Scarfe was awarded 'Cartoonist of the Year' at the British Press Awards 2006.

He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2008 Birthday Honours.[25]

In 2011, a fossil pterosaur discovered in Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset, was named Cuspicephalus scarfi in his honour.[26]


  • Gerald Scarfe, Gerald Scarfe (1982)
  • Gerald Scarfe and Richard West, Sketches from Vietnam (1968)
  • Gerald Scarfe, Gerald Scarfe's People (1966)


  1. ^ John Walker. (1987) "Gerald Scarfe & Pink Floyd". In Cross-Overs: Art into Pop, Pop into Art/artdesigncafe. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  2. ^ "Interview with Floydian Slip radio program". Retrieved 8 November 2010. 
  3. ^ GRO Register of Marriages: SEP 1981 13 1708 KEN&CHELSEA - Scarfe = Asher
  4. ^ GRO Register of Births: SEP 1936 1a 774 HAMPSTEAD, Gerald A. Scarfe, mmn = Gardner
  5. ^ Perry, Kevin (27 February 2007). "Gerald Scarfe feature interview and profile". London: The Beaver. Retrieved 29 September 2010. 
  6. ^ Maurice Horn (1983). The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons, Volume 4. London: Chelsea House Publishers. ISBN 9780877543992. p. 495. Accessed August 2013.
  7. ^ Souter, Nick; Souter, Tessa (2012). The Illustration Handbook: A guide to the world's greatest illustrators. Oceana. p. 307. ISBN 978-1-84573-473-2. 
  8. ^ Ralph Steadman (biography), British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent .
  9. ^ Simone, Michael, "A Long Drawn-Out Trip: An Interview with Gerald Scarfe", REG Magazine (22) .
  10. ^ "The laugh post!". Daily Record (Scotland). 2 March 1998. Retrieved 25 January 2014.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  11. ^ "Comic genius is licked". BBC. 23 April 1998. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "Tour the Dome", News (BBC), 2000 .
  13. ^ Steinman, Jim, Entry incorrectly dated 20 July, 06:603PM. It was actually posted 20 Oct 2006 .
  14. ^ staff (27 January 2013). "'Sunday Times' mocks Holocaust with Israel cartoon". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  15. ^ Offensive anti-Israel cartoon in London’s Sunday Times called blood libel, JTA, 7 December 2013 .
  16. ^ Y net news,7340,L-4337679,00.html |url= missing title (help) .
  17. ^ Jennifer Lipman "Scarfe "regrets timing" of Sunday Times Netanyahu cartoon", The Jewish Chronicle, 28 January 2013
  18. ^ Pfeffer, Anshel, "Four reasons why UK cartoon of Netanyahu isn’t anti-semitic in any way", Ha’aretz .
  19. ^ "Outcry over UK paper's cartoon showing bloody Israeli oppression", The Times of Israel .
  20. ^ "Rupert Murdoch apologises over Gerald Scarfe cartoon", BBC News, 29 January 2013
  21. ^ Mark Gardner and Anshel Pfeffer "Is the Sunday Times cartoon antisemitic?", The Guardian, 29 January 2013. The citation features a reprint of the Haaretz article by Pfeffer, which is only available via subscription on the original site.
  22. ^ The Independent, 1 February 2013
  23. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help).
  24. ^ Media Bulletin
  25. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 58729. p. 8. 14 June 2008.
  26. ^ "Thatcher cartoonist Gerald Scarfe is Dorset fossil namesake". BBC Online. 21 November 2011. Retrieved 22 November 2011. 

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