Organizers: Hillary Chute and Emmy Waldman
This seminar explores the history of exchanges, cross-pollinations, and tensions between comics and the fine arts. This year, the Musée Picasso Paris has brought us, “Picasso and the Comics,” focusing on the connections between Picasso’s work and this graphic form of expression; at the James Cohan gallery in New York, paintings by Trenton Doyle Hancock portray the artist’s Black superhero and one of Philip Guston’s controversial Klansmen. As comics enter the space of the museum and the melee of the consumerist art world, whither the historical distinction between comics and the numerous media known as the “fine arts”? What is gained and what is lost as comics communities and fine arts communities begin to mingle? How have fine artists appropriated or responded to the visual grammar and imagery of comics, and is there reverse traffic? Where do we trace the common ground between comics and the fine arts (the use of grids, seriality, text)?
We invite papers that consider the history of mutual influence between comics and the fine arts throughout the twentieth century. Topics might include: high modernism (Picasso, Cubism, Philip Guston), Pop Art (Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein), the subversive comix underground of the 1970’s (R. Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Gary Panter), and the work of more recent artists (Trenton Doyle Hancock, Kerry James Marshall, Henry Darger, Andrei Molotiu) whose work does not seem to fall into either category.