Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"Silent Pictures" opens today. And contest (see end of post)!

"Silent Pictures," the exhibition at the James Gallery of the Graduate Center of CUNY that I curated with Linda Norden, is opening its doors today. here is some more info:

James Gallery’s Silent Pictures Explores the Nonverbal Power of Comics

Silent Pictures, running from September 1 through October 11 in the James Gallery, will focus on aspects of comic book structure that do not depend on words to advance an image sequence. The exhibition is inspired by artist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Art Spiegelman's personal collection of wordless comics and graphic novels -- mostly black and white rare artist books from the 1930s. The show will feature a selection of these books, as well as more recent “abstract comics,” and a related film program -- all of which investigate essential qualities and aesthetics of this hugely popular medium.

The James Gallery is located off the lobby of the Graduate Center at 365 Fifth Avenue (between 34th & 35th Streets). Hours are Tuesdays through Fridays, 12–8 pm, and 12–6 pm on Saturdays & Sundays. Admission is free; for more information call 212-817-7138 or visit http://www.gc.cuny.edu/events/art_gallery.htm An opening reception for Silent Pictures will be held on Thursday, September 10, 6-8 pm.

The abstract comics, compiled by art historian and cartoon artist
[No, I don't know what a "cartoon artist" is either; and I'm pretty sure I'm not one, in any case. I didn't write this release.] Andrei Molotiu for a just released anthology, Abstract Comics Fantagraphics Books, 2009), call attention to the formal mechanisms that underlie all comics. Where the earlier art collected by Spiegelman retains a narrative, often politically charged thrust, the comics gathered by Molotiu emphasize the dynamic graphics that lead the eye and mind from panel to panel, suggesting that these structural elements are fundamental to the emotional register of the medium.

The exhibition will also feature a specially commissioned wall drawing by Renee French, a hand-drawn animated film by the British artist team Rachel Cattle and Steve Richards, and a new collaborative project for the Graduate Center's Fifth Avenue lobby display windows by Gail Fitzgerald and Carl Ostendarp.

In addition, Columbia University art historian and film scholar Noam Elcott will curate a related film program titled "Comic-Film-Strip." To be installed in a small gallery-within-the-gallery, this program will feature mostly wordless, animated historic films, in which the frame-by-frame narrative parallels developments in the wordless comics that also emerged during the first half of the 20th century. “Comic-Film-Strip” will include selections of films by Emile Cohl, Walter Ruttmann, Norman McLaren, and Robert Breer, as well as a very early partially animated film by William Kentridge. Elcott will elaborate on “Comic-Film-Strip” in a public conversation to be held September 25, 6-7:30 pm in the Graduate Center’s Skylight Lounge.

From here.

In addition to most of the artists featured in the book, the Abstract Comics portion of the exhibition will also feature the works of Nina Roos:

Here is a view of Renee French's just completed mural, with the artist herself helping provide a sense of scale:

I had the idea of asking Renee to do this because, a) she's one of my favorite cartoonists, and b) she had worked really tiny, so I thought it would be interesting to see her work at the other extreme, really, really large.

Please note that the opening reception itself will be on Thursday, September 10, from 6-8. Previous to it, from 5-6 there will be a signing of the Anthology at Jim Hanley's Universe, only a couple of blocks away from the gallery.

Unfortunately, entertainment for the reception will not be provided by these guys:

Oh well, one can only dream...

(BTW, if you are the first to tell me, in comments to this post, who those guys are, you will win... I don't know, something abstract-comics related. I'll make sure it's good. And if you are the first to name at least three of them, you will win big. No points if you are my Facebook friend and have already seen this in my wall photos.)


  1. "And if you are the first to name at least three of them, you will win big."

    William Shatner, Jaime Hernandez and that creepy dude from Lost!

  2. No, no, and I've never seen "Lost" but I'll hazard no.

  3. BINGO! The Martin Denny Group: Martin Denny, Harvey Ragsdale, Augie Colon, Julius Wechter, and Frank Kim.

  4. This picture appears on the back cover of The Best of Martin Denny, an album I was just listening to the other day! The picture is of the Martin Denny Group on stage at Don the Beachcomber's. The people in the picture are Martin Denny, Julius Wechter, Harvey Ragsdale, August Colon and Frank Kim.

  5. Ok. Marcus wins, and because he named the members of the band, he wins big.

    Second prize, Kevin.

    Email me with your addresses!

  6. By the way, Kevin, what a coincidence (well, not really)--I was listening to the Best of Martin Denny a couple of nights ago too, and that's what prompted me to scan the LP sleeve--originally as a desktop background.

  7. My answers were "actions of abstraction".

    I believe that I should get something for that.

  8. Sweet! I'll be flying out to see the show at the end of the month. Too bad I'll miss the opening :(


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