The serious business of what is humour will be put under the spotlight in new exhibition ‘This Is Not A Joke’ opening at Wolverhampton Art Gallery on Saturday - and featuring the work of eight internationally-renowned artists. Paintings, drawings, films and installations will make up the three-month show, which takes a wry look at the concept of humour and challenges people to have a serious think about it. 

Among the artists being exhibited in the show is 2013 Turner Prize winner Laure Prouvost who clinched the coveted award with a video installation called Wantee.

More than 20 drawings by David Shrigley - a Guardian Weekend magazine cartoonist and creator of Kingsley, the controversial mascot for Scottish football team Partick Thistle – will feature in the show.

Shrigley, who has also worked with musicians Blur, David Byrne, Hot Chip and Franz Ferdinand, has been quoted as saying: ‘As a professional artist there’s probably a lot of people who don’t really take my work seriously. Obviously I am serious in the sense that I’ve spent my entire life in this comic endeavour.’

Other artists featured are duo John Wood and Wolverhampton-born Paul Harrison, who have worked together on videos, drawings, text and sculptures since 1993. Their work has been exhibited all over the world with their art held in many collections including the Tate, the Museum of Modern Art, New York and Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Work by American performance artist Andrea Fraser will also feature in the autumn exhibition. Andrea has performed at London’s Whitechapel Gallery, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Centre Pompidou and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

Wolverhampton Art Gallery Curator Neus Miro, who has put the show together, said:

“Humour has played a central role in art movements since the beginning of the twentieth century, from Dada to Fluxus, from Surrealism to Conceptual Art. ‘This is not a Joke’ brings together the works of contemporary artists who use different facets of humour in their work. The paintings, sculptures, drawings and films in this exhibition are not meant to make you laugh openly but their dry humour might bring a smile to your face or make you grin.”

Councillor John Reynolds, City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for Economy, said: “I believe it is the first time all these very current artists have had their work shown together. It is a one-off exhibition and a great chance for people from the Midlands to see artworks, many of which usually hang in leading international galleries. It is also great to know that among the artists exhibiting, one is a Wulfrunian.”

This Is Not a Joke runs at the Lichfield Street gallery from September 26 until January 16 and is free.