Above and Beyond: John Kascht is an iPad app that celebrates the work of John Kascht, one of the leading contemporary caricature artists in the US. It’s part of the Above and Beyond series, which ‘showcase incredible imagery and the equally incredible men and women who create them’.
Here’s a little more about Kascht, via the App Store page for the app:
John Kascht is among the most prominent American caricature artists of the past half-century. His work elegantly straddles the line between cartooning and portraiture, and is part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery.
Before spotting Above and Beyond: John Kascht I had never heard of Kascht. I’m now a huge admirer of his work, and very glad to have discovered it via this excellent app.
The subjects for Kascht’s caricatures range from former presidents and major political figures to actors and all sorts of celebrities. The app presents his work and a glimpse of the man himself and his lifestyle, which is quite different to most of the people he captures in his work:
The contrast between John Kascht and his subjects could not be more stark. They stroll on red carpets in Hollywood, Broadway and Washington under the bright spotlights that accompany their fame. John, one of the foremost caricaturists of his generation, exists in a world far away from that glare: a tiny farm in Pennsylvania here he lives with his wife – a beekeeper – and 500,000 honeybees.
These are some of the major sections of the app:
Kascht at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery: a look at some of Kascht’s work which is on display at one of the country’s most prestigious galleries.
Biography: This includes a little known facts page that offers some real gems. For instance, Kascht knows how to field dress and cook a woodchuck, and had his recipe for Woodchuck Au Vin appear in The New York Times.
Explore the Farm and Studio: Where Kascht lives in Honesdale, Pa., with a population of less than 5,000. This section also has a ‘Details, details …’ page – showing ‘what makes his work so wondrous’. Things like the materials he paints with, a peek inside a working bee hive, an old chicken coop gets used as a summer studio, and on the first Friday of most months it becomes a roadhouse with live music. It also mentions his ‘other paintings’ made as he wipes his brushes across vellum to get off excess paint.
— The caricatures! They’re brilliant and funny and easily worth the price of admission on their own. There are pop stars …
This one, of someone who’s not a comedian but is a great source of unintentional comedy, is one of my favorites:
— The way the caricatures are presented. Each one looks superb in full screen view. You can swipe through easily or jump to specific ones that interest you from the listings page. On each portrait’s individual page there’s an audio clip of Kascht himself explaining his thoughts on the piece. You can also tap to see his preliminary sketches for each one. And you can share any of them via email, Twitter or Facebook with one tap as well.
— There’s a great, short video where Kascht talks about his work. Even though it’s a short clip, it’s full of insight. In it he says that he’s not all that conscious of the humor in his work, at least not while he’s doing it. And he talks about how much can be said with wrinkles, hair, and facial expressions. Two lines I love:
We literally wear our lives.
A caricature is a portrait with the volume turned up.
— The app itself is beautifully designed. The UI is simple and makes it easy to get around and enjoy Kascht’s work, and get to know lots about the artist. The screens in the app are just gorgeous – even divider pages for sections.
Some pages include fun, lighthearted elements as well – like a bee buzzing round the screen.
— None to speak of.
Again, the superb artwork of John Kascht alone make this a very attractive app right off the bat. His portraits capture their subjects perfectly – with great style and humor.
This app offers a gorgeous and fun environment in which to discover Kascht’s work and a lot about the man himself. It’s a wonderful portrait of a guy who does wonderful portraits.
Here’s an App Store link for Above and Beyond: John Kascht; it’s priced at $1.99.
Disclosure: This app was independently purchased by the post author in the iPad App Store. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the "About" page