March 2, 2007 - The Museum of Modern Art, New York - Comic Abstraction: Image-Breaking, Image-Making
March 2, 2007

Comic Abstraction: Image-Breaking, Image-Making

Rivane Neuenschwander. Zé Carioca no. 4, A Volta de Zé Carioca [The Return of Zé Carioca] (1960) (Edição Histórica, Ed. Abril) (detail). 2004. Synthetic polymer paint on comic book pages, thirteen images, each 6 1/4 x 4″ (15.9 x 10.2 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Fund for the Twenty-First Century. Copyright 2007 Rivane Neuenschwander

Comic Abstraction: Image-Breaking, Image-Making 
March 4-June 11, 2007

The Museum of Modern Art
11 West 53rd Street,
New York, NY 10019-5497
Tel: (212) 708-9431

Comic Abstraction: Image-Breaking, Image-Making brings together thirteen contemporary artists whose works offer a rich account of the interplay between abstraction and comic models of representation. While many exhibitions have explored the impact of mass culture on contemporary art, they have generally focused on figuration and easily identifiable pop characters and themes. This exhibition approaches the topic from a different angle. It looks at the ways artistsparticularly those working in the last fifteen yearshave used images culled from slapstick, comic strips, film, caricature, cartoons, and animation as springboards for abstraction, not to withdraw from reality, but to address perplexing questions about war and global conflicts, the loss of innocence, and racial stereotyping.

What does it mean to confront political concerns with humor? How can comics serve as a medium for tackling difficult issues? From Julie Mehretus intricately layered paintings of cartoon explosions portraying warfare and Arturo Herreras psychological collages of childrens coloring books, to Ellen Gallaghers seductively minimalist paintings permeated by blackface signs evocative of minstrel performances and Rivane Neuenschwanders overpainted comic strips, the works presented here grapple with such questions. The act of abstracting a comic image entails blurring, erasing, and unpainting figuration in ways that raise the stakes attached to recognition. Bridging the rift between abstraction and comics in ways that are at once critical and playful, this exhibition underscores the way popular imagery, which is so deeply imprinted on our collective consciousness, carries an extreme visual potency even when entirely abstracted.
The exhibition is organized by Roxana Marcoci, Curator, Department of Photography, The Museum of Modern Art, New York

The exhibition is supported in part by Jerry I. Speyer and Katherine G. Farley and by Susan G. Jacoby.

Additional funding is provided by The Friends of Education and The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art.

The publication is made possible by Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York
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