PHILADELPHIA.- In 1967, a young Philadelphia cartoonist named Robert
Crumb arrived in San Francisco and quickly established himself as a
master of the burgeoning "comix" movement. No one had ever seen
anything like Crumb's skewed adult satire, a brilliant combination of
classical storytelling and crass commercialism, expressed in a
vibrant symbolic language harking back to "old time" cartooning.
First featured in Philadelphia's Yarrowstalks and in his own Zap
Comix, Crumb's tales of funny animals and misguided souls seeking
enlightenment (including Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural, Devil Girl, and
his most enduring character, R. Crumb) vibrate with libidinal
obsessions, feminist empowerment, racial tension, counterculture
paranoia, government repression, and big-business commodificationthe
hustles and bustles hidden beneath the American dream.
This career-spanning survey, on view though December 7, 2008, is
organized around specific themes and ideologies critical to his work.
These include social satire, sex, blues and jazz music, mind-altering
substances, autobiography, and biography. The show spotlights
collaborations from his early San Francisco days in the 1960s and
1970s, to recent work with his wife, cartoonist Aline Kominsky-Crumb.
Extending far beyond comics, this exhibit of over 100 worksincluding
early comics, greeting cards, collaborations, and sketchbooks, as
well as drawings and sculpturesis the most substantial portrait of
Crumb to date in the United States.
Robert Crumb (born 1943 Philadelphia; lives Sauve, France) began
drawing comics as a young boy in the 1950s. Universally acknowledged
as the founder of the underground comics scene (often called "comix"
to denote adult-themed comic books), Robert Crumb gained cult
popularity for his pioneering Zap Comix, and stardom with the 1994
Terry Zwigoff documentary Crumb. He has published in countless
comics, books, and magazines over the years, and has recently been
recognized by the larger art world with numerous exhibitions,
including a retrospective in 2004 at the Ludwig Museum, Cologne, and
a focus in the 2004 Carnegie International, Pittsburgh.