Power and satire in the front-page images of Mariano Rajoy: visual motifs as political humour


visual motifs
front page

How to Cite

Garin, M., & Pérez-Pamies, D. (2021). Power and satire in the front-page images of Mariano Rajoy: visual motifs as political humour. The European Journal of Humour Research, 9(3), 65–91. https://doi.org/10.7592/EJHR2021.9.3.534


This article explores the use of photography and visual motifs as forms of political humour in contemporary media. By studying the representation of former Prime Minister of Spain Mariano Rajoy in the front pages of three Spanish newspapers (El Mundo, El País and La Vanguardia) between 2011 and 2017, the paper identifies and questions the liaisons between power and satire present in the so-called “serious” press, focusing on how different photographic traits concerning layout, composition and gestures reflect ideological choices. This photographic satire developed by printed media is then framed within a figurative tradition that goes back to Spanish royal portraiture, from Velázquez to Goya, which employs common strategies for the visual depiction of power, including satirical and humorous attributes to push specific political agendas. This examination, based on the quantified study and the visual analysis of more than 7,500 front pages, is part of the national research project Visual Motifs in the Public Sphere: Production and Circulation of Images of Power in Spain, 2011-2017. In order to determine a useful procedural approach to satirical expressions in photographs, defining which front pages invoke a remarkable satirical content, this article also presents a comparative study and a categorisation based on formal (im)balances related to the concepts of visual motif and humour.



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