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Revisting The Comic Art Show: Whitney Museum 1983
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Revisting The Comic Art Show: Whitney Museum 1983

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This presentation features new research about the Comic Art Show (1983), the first show to treat comic art, graffiti, modern art and early post-modern art as equals under the sponsorship of a major ...

This presentation features new research about the Comic Art Show (1983), the first show to treat comic art, graffiti, modern art and early post-modern art as equals under the sponsorship of a major New York art museum (the Whitney Museum of American Art's Downtown branch). This presentation includes comments by John Carlin (co-curator) and exhibition photos courtesy of the Frances Mulhall Achilles Library at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

I will be presenting on the "Comics and Museums" panel at San Diego Comic Con on Sunday (7/26) at 1:00pm in room 30AB with Michael Dooley and Denis Kitchen.

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  • I just revised this presentation for the PCA/ACA national conference in St. Louis. I'm continuing to interview people involved in the show, and hope to have a complete second draft of the article soon.
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  • I have continued to do research and interviews about this show, and will be presenting on the finished paper (I hope!) at the PCA/ACA national conference in St. Louis in March 2010.
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  • Comics in Museums panel. Sunday 7/26 1-2:30. How do comics bridge the worlds of popular art on the stands and fine art on museum walls? Kim Munson (Munson Art Consulting) revisits the 1983 'Comic Art Show' at the Whitney. Michael Dooley (Art Center College of Design) covers two MOMA shows, the 1990 'High and Low' exhibit and the 2005 'Masters of American Comics,' with emphasis on the works of Kurtzman and Spiegelman. Denis Kitchen (Underground Classics) discusses new trends in museum exhibitions and discusses the just-concluded “Underground Classics” show at the Chazen Art Museum and other shows he has worked on. Room 30AB http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/event.php?eid=99301348014
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  • I upload my ppt and that fixed the problem, text still looks a little small in this format (but at least it's there). Sorry.
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  • For some unknown reason, the text isn't showing up on this slideshow. I uploaded from pdf and I've never had this problem before. I will solve this problem soon. Sorry.
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  • Clearly, cartoon characters have transcended their identity as mass-produced disposables, emerging as pictorial icons and psychological symbols (David Keeps, Heavy Metal, 11/83) Cartoons and Comic Strips fall into the general category of folk art,. The entertain and poke fun, tickle our funny bone, and stirize, but they do not concern themselves with the broader formal or thematic dimensions of reality that are the basis of more serious forms of art. (Theodore Wolff, Christian Science Monitor, 9/27/83)

Revisting The Comic Art Show: Whitney Museum 1983 Revisting The Comic Art Show: Whitney Museum 1983 Presentation Transcript

  • REVISITING THE COMIC ART SHOW WHITNEY MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART, DOWNTOWN GALLERY, 1983 Presented by Kim Munson, PCA/ACA St. Louis, 2010
  • First art exhibition produced by a major New York art museum to display comic art, graffiti, pop art and the post-modern art of the East Village art scene together as equal works of art. Co-curated by John Carlin (Masters of American Comics, Imagining America) & Sheena Wagstaff (Comics Iconoclasm, currently Chief Curator at Tate Modern London). This show ultimately brought together the circle of people that produced Masters of American Comics in LA (2005). Spiegelman, Carlin, Brian Walker & Anne Philbin, plus many artists. Downtown gallery at Federal Hall (26 Wall Street), NY
  • The show concept was inspired by a class Carlin was teaching as a grad student at Yale called Popular Iconography and his deep involvement in the new generation of punk, pop and underground artists creating a big stir in the East Village. 1960’s 1980’s 1980’s Art and Comix in Transition.
  • Spiegelman, who was working on Raw and just beginning Maus, became Carlin’s mentor on this project, introducing him to many collectors. John Carlin: “Rick Marschall, Pete Maresca and Bill Blackbeard, are the three people that saved printed newspaper comics from oblivion at a time when they were being thrown away and no institution in America saw any value in them. They preserved them. They bought the bound volumes and kept them. Now they're all in Ohio. If those three men hadn’t kept them, they wouldn't exist. It's really kind of a heroic story, it would be a great documentary. .” (5/09) Winsor McCay (1869-1934) Little Sammy Sneeze, 1905 (Sunday) Ink, crayon, wash on paper Collection of Ray Moniz The Comics Collectors
  • Comic Artists Ernie Bushmiller Chester Gould Winsor McCay Milton Caniff Harold Grey Richard Outcault Al Capp Bill Griffith Gary Panter R. Crumb Milt Gross Alex Raymond Will Eisner George Herriman E.C. Segar Lyonel Feininger Bill Holman Joe Shuster H.C. Fisher Robert Kane Art Spiegelman Rube Goldberg Walt Kelly Cliff Sterrett Frank King Garry Trudeau Harvey Kurtzman & Wally Wood Stan Lee & Jack Kirby Painters & Sculptors Roger Brown Roy Lichtenstein Alexis Smith Ronnie Cutrone Jim Nutt Saul Steinberg Stuart Davis Claes Oldenburg Andy Warhol Oyvind Fahlstrom Suzan Pitt John Wesley John Fawcett Lee Quinones Karl Wirsum Vernon Fisher Mel Ramos Ray Yoshida Steve Gianakos Robert Rauschenberg Anonymous (2) Keith Haring Ad Reinhardt Jess David Salle Jasper Johns Kenny Scharf Richard Outcault. The Yellow Kid 1896 Art Spiegelman. Two-Fisted Painters, 1982 Plus additional works by Henry Chalfant, The Hairy Who & C. Comics Stuart Davis. Lucky Strike, 1924 Keith Haring. Untitled, 1981 Who was in the show.
  • Gary Panter (b. 1950). Jimbo, 1981 Suzan Pitt (b. 1943). Untitled, 1983 (Sculpture) Jess (1923-2004). The Truth Shall be Thy Warrant, 1976 Ronnie Cutrone (b. 1948). The Price of Liberty is Eternal Vigilance, 1982. John Carlin: “I hung the show myself, intuitively with no hierarchy, in a way meant to give the viewer an intellectually and emotionally moving experience.” (5/09) A wall of drawings by R. Crumb (b. 1943), Frank King (1883-1969), Cliff Sterrett (1883-1964) & Art Spiegelman (b. 1948). The small sculpture in the center is Untiltled, 1974 by Roger Brown (b. 1941). All exhibition photos courtesy of the Frances Mulhall Achilles Library at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Exhibition photos
  • George Herriman, Krazy Kat, June 11, 1936 Roy Lichtenstein (1923 - 1997). Bugs Bunny, 1958. David Salle (b. 1952) Untitled. 1961. Jphn Carlin: “The thing that motivated me was this: here you are in the most media saturated culture in human history, and you have this form of expression, like comics, that's constantly on the verge of being literally inaccessible. Americans really don't preserve their own culture. It's a real tragedy, because we have this kind of fear of the things that we like. If we like it and it's popular, then it can't be significant.” (5/09) George Herriman, Krazy Kat, June 11, 1936 Winsor McCay (1869-1934) Little Sammy Sneeze, 1905 (Sunday) Anonymous (American Hopi Indian) Mickey Mouse doll. painted wood, c. 1950. Anonymous (Alaskan Eskimo) Olive Oyl doll. carved ivory. c. 1940. Exhibition photos
  • Chester Gould (1900-1985), Dick Tracy, 1957 John Wesley,(b. 1928). Bumstead, in a Strait Jacket, 1975. These two graphics served as invitations to the opening reception and later dance party. The opening became a media event, covered by the New York Times, WABC TV, WNEW TV, the Village Voice, Newsweek, Art in America & others. There was also a week long animation festival. Opening & Events - July 18, 1983.
  • “Cartoons and Comic Strips fall into the general category of folk art. They entertain and poke fun, tickle our funny bone, “Clearly, cartoon characters have transcended and satirize, but they do not concern themselves with their identity as mass-produced disposables, the broader formal or thematic dimensions of emerging as pictorial icons and psychological reality that are the symbols .“ basis of more serious forms of art.” -David Keeps, Heavy Metal, 11/83 -Theodore Wolff, Christian Science Monitor, 9/27/83 “What the Comic Art Show “The show is perhaps most successful in its attempt to reveals is a strong impulse make us see cartoons historically and critically in their to valorize the comics by hugely satisfying richness, to have us appreciate the treating them according to special kind of verbal/visual genius necessary to a methodology derived from create an enduring comic strip.“ mainstream art history.” -Roberta Smith, Village Voice, 8/23/83 -David Deitcher, Art in America, 2/84 “The Comic Art Show seemed to be trying to hard to prove that comics are art.” “What a delight! The cartoon become artoon.” -Jim Salicrup, quoted in Comics Journal 1/84 -Nicholas Moufarrege. FlashArt, 11/83 The critics have their say…
  • Carlin: “One thing I was always proud to say, was at the time, and I haven’t checked this since, at the time it was the only profitable exhibition that the Whitney had ever done. It made a lot of money. Because I talked Keith Haring into doing the very first commercially available T-shirt that he ever did. He was afraid it was going to ruin his reputation. He was afraid no one would take him seriously...The T-shirts were probably only 10 bucks, but we might have sold, like, 10,000 T-shirts and 10,000 catalogs. Somebody uptown at the Whitney got the idea that this was a show that was so successful that they should've brought it uptown and re-presented it. And it got me into a lot of political mess, and basically, there were some powerful people that just didn't want to see that happen. Which I always thought was a shame. I think it's great that the Whitney did this, but I think it would've been more important, if they had really made it part of their uptown main museum exhibition schedule.” Catalog with 7 extensive essays printed by (5/09) Fantagraphics in black & white on inexpensive paper and sold for $2.95 (or $6.95 by mail). A Success ! … but wait…