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From November 8, 2013 through March 23, 2014, The Jewish Museum will present Art Spiegelman's Co-Mix: A Retrospective celebrating the career of one of the most influential living comics artists and showing the full range of five decades of relentless experimentation. Best known for Maus, his Pulitzer prize-winning graphic novel about his parents' survival of the Holocaust, Art Spiegelman (b. 1948) has produced a diverse body of work that has blurred the boundaries between "high" and "low" art. This first U.S. retrospective spans Spiegelman's career: from his early days in underground comix to the thirteen-year genesis of Maus, to more recent work including provocative covers for The New Yorker, and artistic collaborations in new and unexpected media. The exhibition highlights Spiegelman's painstaking creative process, and includes over three hundred preparatory sketches, preliminary and final drawings, as well as prints and other ephemeral and documentary material.
Spiegelman first made a name for himself as a cartoonist and editor in underground comix, the graphic expression of the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s. As he matured as an artist, Spiegelman diverged from the sex and drug ethos of his peers and, in a postmodern fashion, increasingly challenged the narrative, visual, and structural possibilities of comics. He also began exploring themes that dominate his work to this day: intimate personal expression, memory, and history. In the 1980s Spiegelman reinvigorated underground comics by co-founding the avant-garde magazine RAW with his wife Françoise Mouly. RAW showcased the most groundbreaking graphic artists of the time, and serially published chapters of the then work-in-progressMaus.
Maus recounted his parents' life in Nazi-occupied Poland and later at Auschwitz, as well as Spiegelman's own complex relationship with his father, Vladek. Eventually published in two volumes (in 1986 and 1991 respectively) by Pantheon,Maus was the first of its kind in content and format: the unique structure of the comics medium allowed the artist to navigate time and memory beyond the limitations of prose, creating a rich narrative that exploded the boundaries of comics and nonfiction.
Refusing to be defined by the overwhelming attention brought by this singular work, Spiegelman largely turned away from autobiography in the 1990s, instead writing and drawing for The New Yorker and other publications, and creating children's books.But after witnessing firsthand the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11, he returned to personal narrative with his autobiographical account In the Shadow of No Towers(2004). This lifelong concern with memory and personal experience has continued in his short comic strip memoir Portrait of the Artist as a Young %@*&! (2008), and inMetamaus (2011), a meditation on his creative process and career.
A self-proclaimed "stylistic switch-hitter," Spiegelman's versatility and encyclopedic knowledge of comics history has allowed him to adapt his visual language to many contexts and audiences. For those most familiar with Maus, this retrospective exhibition will be revelatory, exploring his early formal experiments, honest self-exposés, as well as provocative illustrations and comic essays. Museum visitors will gain an intimate look at an artist who continuously pushes himself and his art to the edge. The exhibition will also include recent projects in unexpected media, such as a collaboration with the dance troupe Pilobolus.
Art Spiegelman's Co-Mix: A Retrospective was organized by Rina Zavagli-Mattotti for the 2012 Festival International de la Bande Desinée in Angoulême, France - where Art Spiegelman was honored with the Grand Prix for lifetime achievement in illustration - and is coordinated for The Jewish Museum in New York by Emily Casden, Curatorial Assistant. The exhibition has traveled to the Library of the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Museum Ludwig, Cologne; and the Vancouver Art Gallery. The Jewish Museum is the only U.S. venue.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue, CO-MIX: A Retrospective of Comics, Graphics, and Scraps, published by Drawn & Quarterly. The 120-page, full-color, hardcover book features essays by J. Hoberman and Robert Storr and will be available worldwide and at The Jewish Museum's Cooper Shop for $39.95.
Born in Stockholm in 1948, Art Spiegelman was the first comics artist to win the Pulitzer Prize, which he received for the groundbreaking bestseller Maus. He coedited Raw, and his comics have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Playboy, and Harper's. Spiegelman has been named one of the 100 Most Influential People by Time, elected to the Art Director Club's Hall of Fame, made a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2005 (promoted to Officier in 2012), and played himself on The Simpsons. He lives in New York City.
Venue Description: Open Sat.-Tues., 11am-5:45pm; Thurs., 11am-8pm; Fri., 11am-4pm. Closed Wed. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 seniors, $7.50 students, under 12 free. Thurs. 5-8pm is "pay what you wish."