"Clowes has explored the tedium and mystery of contemporary American life with more wit and insight than most novelists or filmmakers."—A. O. Scott, New York Times
Columbus, OH—Internationally renowned comic book artist Daniel Clowes is at the center of two exhibitions at the Wex this spring and summer:
Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes, the first-ever survey of Clowes’s extensive body of work, and
Eye of the Cartoonist: Daniel Clowes’s Selections from Comics History, an exhibition curated by Clowes. Both exhibitions will be on view at the Wexner Center May 17–August 3, 2014. Columbus is the final stop for Modern Cartoonist, which made its premiere at the Oakland Museum of California, and features more than 90 pieces of original art and artifacts from the full range of Clowes’s career. Eye of the Cartoonist is drawn from the collection of Ohio State’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, the world’s largest repository of cartoon art.
Notes Wexner Center Director Sherri Geldin, “In his decades-long career, Daniel Clowes has occupied a pioneering place at the particular intersection of comics, literature, and film. We are delighted to bring his astonishing work to Columbus audiences and, at the same time, invite his unique perspective on the unparalleled collection of Ohio State’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, just across the plaza from the Wex. Pairing these two exhibitions will surely amplify both, and also underscore the spirit of cross-campus collaboration that has long characterized the Wexner Center’s relationship with our colleagues at the cartoon collection.”
Daniel Clowes is one of the most renowned comic book artists of our time, with nearly fifty publications to his credit. His acclaimed comics—including Ghost World (1997), David Boring (1999), and Wilson (2010), among others—have been instrumental in establishing literary credibility for the genre. Organized by the Oakland Museum of California and also presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes is the first museum survey of his work, bringing together over 90 pieces of original art and artifacts from the full range of his career.
Clowes first gained prominence in the late 1980s for his seminal comic-book series Eightball, which serialized many of his best–known stories and ran until 2004. These include Clowes’s first extended narrative Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron (1989–1993), a surrealist-tinged, dream-inspired tale of one man’s search for his ex-wife, as well as more recent works Ice Haven (2005) and The Death-Ray (2011). It was also in the pages of Eightball that Clowes’s era-defining work Ghost World (1997) first appeared. An episodic story of teenage angst and alienation, Ghost World follows the friendship of Enid and Rebecca as they transition into life after high school. The widely praised Ghost World was adapted into a film of the same name by director Terry Zwigoff in 2001, featuring an Academy Award–nominated screenplay by Clowes himself.
Among Clowes’s more recent work is Wilson, his first stand-alone graphic novel. Wilson tells the story of the eponymous middle-aged loner, who begins an ill-fated attempt to rekindle a relationship with his ex-wife. Cynical, affecting, and hilarious, Wilson is told in a series on single-page gag strips illustrated in a spectrum of styles that draw on a wide-range of comic history. The exhibition presents original black ink and Zipatone drawings of pages from these works, as well as beautifully realized gouache paintings of the covers of Ghost World and other publications. Also on display are examples of Clowes’s career as an illustrator, including work for the Criterion Collection and several covers of The New Yorker.
Modern Cartoonist made its debut at the Oakland Museum of California April 14–August 12, 2012 before continuing on to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (June 29–October 13, 2013), Chicago, Illinois; and now to the Wex, where it makes its terminal stop. The Wexner Center presentation is organized by Director of Film/Video David Filipi.
EYE OF THE CARTOONIST
To complement the exhibition Modern Cartoonist, the Wexner Center for the Arts has organized Eye of the Cartoonist: Daniel Clowes’s Selections from Comics History, which was personally curated by Clowes and draws from the collection of Ohio State’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.
An astute student of his field’s history, Clowes worked closely with Curator Jenny Robb and Engagement Coordinator Caitlin McGurk at the Billy Ireland to organize an exhibition of work representing a diverse array of styles, themes, and eras, many created by artists Clowes considers direct influences. In works such as the comic book anthology series Eightball and the graphic novel Wilson, Clowes illustrates in a wide spectrum of styles that often incorporate, adapt, and comment on touchstones from comic history.
“This exhibit is an exciting way to activate the Billy Ireland’s archive and to recontextualize and make public what is, ultimately, a small sliver of its vast collection,” says Filipi. “Of course Dan couldn’t look at everything, given the collection’s enormity, but what has resulted in this show is a wonderfully personal snapshot of the confluence of his interests and the Billy’s holdings.”
The exhibition will consist largely of stunning original art for daily and Sunday strips by such artists as Charles Schulz (Peanuts), Chester Gould (Dick Tracy), and Ernie Bushmiller (Nancy); original illustrations by the likes of Popeye creator E. C. Segar and EC Comics mainstay Wally Wood; beautiful, full-color vintage newspaper pages of such classic strips as Wee Willie Winkie (Lyonel Feininger) and Buck Rogers (Dick Calkins); and vintage comic books by such influential underground artists as Robert Crumb and Jay Lynch. The earliest cartoon included in the exhibition is Lyonel Feininger’s Kin-Der-Kids, created in 1906.
MORE ABOUT DANIEL CLOWES
Daniel Clowes was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1961, and attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, graduating with a BFA degree in 1984. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including several Harvey Awards, given for achievement in comic books, and won the 2011 Pen Award for Graphic Literature. He lives in Oakland, California with his wife Erika and son Charles, and their beagle Ella.
An opening celebration, with Daniel Clowes in attendance, will be held on Friday, May 16 from 6 to 9 pm. Clowes will join comics scholar Hillary Chute the following day, Saturday, May 17, for an artist’s talk. Other events planned in conjunction with the spring/summer exhibitions include a screening of Terry Zwigoff’s Ghost World, based on Clowes’s work of the same name. Walk-in tours, free with gallery admission, are scheduled throughout the exhibitions’ run. Visit http://wexarts.org for more details.