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Vancouver Art Gallery opens Art Spiegelman CO-MIX. A Retrospective of Comics, Graphics and Scraps

Vancouver Art Gallery presents Art Spiegelman CO-MIX. A Retrospective of Comics, Graphics and Scraps on view February 16 to June 9, 2013.

Art Spiegelman Self Portrait with Maus Mask, 1989 Courtesy of the Artist

Tracing Spiegelman’s considerable artistic output, the exhibition features more than 400 preparatory drawings, sketches, studies and panels relating to his early underground “comix” from the 1970s, his best-known and genre-defying work, Maus, and his more recent illustrations and comic art, including his powerful response to 9/11, In the Shadow of No Towers.

Beginning with his time as an art teacher at the San Francisco Academy of Arts University in the late 1970s, when Spiegelman first came into contact with the underground comix scene led by Robert Crumb, the exhibition will include a selection of his contributions to the iconic Arcade magazine, which he co-published with Crumb and Bill Griffiths. These early pieces, among the first of his published works, offer a glimpse into his struggle to channel cultural commentary into biting, subversive comics. The publication of Breakdowns, in 1977, offered a retrospective view of Spiegelman’s interest in complex notions of narrative and styles of expression. Drawing on a wide range of artistic styles and strategies, he developed dynamic new ideas within the field of comics. For twenty years Spiegelman also worked as a writer, illustrator, art director, graphic designer and general idea man for Topps Bubblegum, producing trading cards, stickers and candy products for the popular Garbage Pail Kids and the Wacky Packages series.

A significant portion of the exhibition is devoted to Maus, the work that in its myriad forms has consumed the artist throughout his career. Published between 1978 and 1991, this autobiographical graphic novel juxtaposes Spiegelman’s father’s experience during the Second World War with an account of the strained relationship between father and son in the present. Spiegelman originally published sections of Maus in RAW, an influential magazine that he created and edited along with Francoise Mouly from 1980 to 1991. RAW included work by comic artists from around the world, many of whom would later receive considerable acclaim, and evidences Spiegelman’s skill as an editor. The exhibition includes research material, preliminary sketches, photographs and storyboards related to the production of Maus, along with designs, pages and publications that reveal RAW’s legacy. Spiegelman’s narrative and formal innovations in Maus would prove influential to an entire new generation of comic artists.

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