Thursday, December 6, 2007

Crumb at the Frye

I stopped into the Fantagraphics Bookstore at lunch time and learned that the most comprehensive U.S. exhibition of Robert Crumb’s work to date is opening at Seattle's own Frye Art Museum at the end of January. According to the Frye catalog, "R. Crumb’s Underground showcases forty years of the artist’s cultural contributions. It highlights the important role collaboration has played throughout Crumb’s career, including during his youth as part of the San Francisco comic book underground, and with his wife, cartoonist Aline Kominsky-Crumb.

Ian Buruma wrote an appreciation of Crumb in the New York Review of Books upon publication of the R. Crumb Handbook in 2oo6. "Perhaps the greatest, and by now best-known, cartoon character in Crumb's rich oeuvre is R. Crumb himself, a little mustachioed figure in a tweed jacket and glasses with a rampant penis, playing the banjo, or jumping on large athletic women in tight jeans, or getting beaten up, or masturbating over his own cartoons. R. Crumb, the comic figure, is not quite Mr. Everyman. Rather, he is the artist as loser, the sensitive nerd, who feels humiliated by the handsome bullies who are dumb and cruel but get the girls, while he can only dream about them. That is, until R. Crumb becomes a famous cartoonist and can suddenly do whatever he likes with the 'gurls,' which is usually something rather drastic, like slamming them face-down on the floor and riding them like a jockey."

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