Masters of American Comics
November 20, 2005 - March 12, 2006
- Milton Caniff Steve Canyon January 26, 1947 Sunday newspaper page (detail). On view at Hammer Museum. Reproduced with permission of the Milton Caniff Estate.
- Winsor McCay Little Nemo in Slumberland December 3, 1905 Newspaper Sunday page. On view at Hammer Museum. Collection Peter Maresca. Digital image ©2005 Peter Maresca.
- Winsor McCay Little Nemo in Slumberland February 16, 1908 Newspaper Sunday page. On view at Hammer Museum. Collection of Peter Maresca. Digital image ©2005 Peter Maresca.
- Lyonel Feininger The Kin-der-Kids April 29, 1906 Sunday newspaper page. On view at Hammer Museum. Collection Cartoon Research Library, Ohio State University. ©Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.
- Lyonel Feininger The Kin-der-Kids abroad May 6, 1906 Newspaper Sunday page. On view at Hammer Museum. Collection Cartoon Research Library, Ohio State University. Slide Service International, Columbus, Ohio. ©Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.
- George Herriman Krazy Kat November 28, 1937 Newspaper Sunday page. On view at Hammer Museum. Collection of Patrick McDonnell. ©2005 Reprinted with permission of King Features Syndicate.
- George Herriman Krazy Kat September 12, 1937 Newpaper Sunday page. ©2005 Reprinted with permission of King Features Syndicate.
- E.C. Segar Thimble Theatre Starring Popeye October 11, 1936 Newspaper Sunday page. On view at Hammer Museum. Private Collection. ©2005 Reprinted with permission of King Features Syndicate.
- E.C. Segar Thimble Theatre Starring Popeye October 11, 1936 Newspaper Sunday page (detail). On view at Hammer Museum. Private Collection. ©2005 Reprinted with permission of King Features Syndicate.
The Hammer Museum and The Museum of Contemporary Art jointly present Masters of American Comics, a large-scale exhibition comprising in-depth presentations of work by 15 artists who shaped the development of the American comic strip and comic book during the past century. With over 900 objects on view simultaneously at both museums, the exhibition provides understanding and insight into the medium of comics as an art form.
About the Exhibition
Masters of American Comics endeavors to establish a canon of fifteen of the most influential artists working in the medium throughout the 20th century. American comics evolved in the latter half of the 19th century, and developed in numerous ways, primarily pushed in new directions by the artists who created them. This exhibition seeks to identify these significant contributors and to showcase the mastery and formal innovations they brought to bear on the tradition. Social, economic, and technological change also underlie many of the paths that comics have traveled during this period, from the mechanization of printing and distribution, to the commercial appeal of Sunday newspaper supplements, to the eventual contraction of space within newspapers that began in the 1930s and continued during World War II. The Cold War and the rise of the counterculture also had direct effects on comics, one of which was to drive many of the most innovative artists away from newspapers and towards the parallel universe of comic books and later, graphic novels, where their imaginations could run wild. As such, comics serve as a mirror in which we can view the central concerns of American life as they are unfolding through the eyes of artists who have given us new ways of looking.
This exhibition has been founded on the premise that comics are a bonafide cultural and aesthetic practice with its own history, protagonists, and contribution to society, on par with music, film, and the visual arts, but still in need of the kind of historical clarification that has been afforded those other genres. The in-depth analysis of the chosen fifteen artists - Winsor McCay, Lyonel Feininger, George Herriman, E.C. Segar, Frank King, Chester Gould, Milton Caniff, and Charles M. Schulz at the Hammer Museum, and Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, Harvey Kurtzman, R. Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Gary Panter, and Chris Ware at MOCA - is meant to inspire the kind of concentrated viewing that will bring out the central contributions of each, as well as the formal innovations that make their work unique. More
Masters of American Comics is co-curated by scholars John Carlin and Brian Walker, and is coordinated by Hammer Museum Deputy Director of Collections and Director of the Grunwald Center Cynthia Burlingham and MOCA Assistant Curator Michael Darling.
The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive, fully-illustrated catalogue co-published by Yale University Press. It features an essay by John Carlin and contributions on the individual artists by a variety of novelists, historians, and artists. Contributors include Tom DeHaven on Winsor McCay, Brian Walker on Lyonel Feininger, Stanley Crouch on George Herriman, Jules Feiffer on E.C. Segar, Karal Ann Marling on Frank King, Robert Storr on Chester Gould, Pete Hamill on Milton Caniff, Patrick McDonnell on Charles Schulz, Raymond Pettibon on Will Eisner, Glen David Gold on Jack Kirby, J. Hoberman on Harvey Kurtzman, Françoise Mouly on R. Crumb, Jonathan Safran Foer on Art Spiegelman, Matt Groening on Gary Panter, and Dave Eggers on Chris Ware. Designed by award-winning graphic designer Lorraine Wild, the publication features 185 color reproductions and retails for $45.
Masters of American Comics is jointly organized by the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
The exhibition is made possible, in part, by the National Endowment for the Arts.
89.9 KCRW is the Official Radio Sponsor for the exhibition.