New Yorker Cartoonist Koren at Bellarmine Museum, Opens Feb. 5
Fairfield University’s Bellarmine Museum of Art presents its new exhibition, “Edward Koren: The Capricious Line,” a major survey of the work of the artist best known for his cartoons and cover illustrations for The New Yorker magazine, on view from Friday, February 5 through Friday, April 8, 2016. An opening reception, free and open to the public, will take place in Bellarmine Hall on Thursday, February 4 from 6:00 – 7:30 p.m.
A primary focus of the exhibition is Koren’s drawings for cartoons, which highlight his role as observer of contemporary society and as a gently acerbic critic of a cultural scene that seems to demand his graphic commentary. The artist himself has defined his objective intimacy with that world: “Clichés or ritual acts that annoy or amuse me or intrigue me are points of entry that allow me to construct small dramas, frozen in time and space, that people will laugh at (because they might have recognized themselves), and that I do laugh at (because I have recognized myself).”
The exhibition explores the full range of art that Koren has produced during the past five decades, including original drawings for cartoons and illustrated books as well as prints and independent drawings, many never before displayed. The show examines Koren’s continuing experimentation with ideas and forms through a variety of finished drawings, many surprisingly large.
The artist’s “capricious line” consists primarily of short strokes that create remarkably descriptive and expressive images. Koren’s work brings us into the realm of fantasy based firmly in reality, such contradiction being one source of the works’ humor. One section explores Koren’s fascination with the natural world and its inhabitants, depicting creatures generated more by the momentum of the artist’s graphic imagination than by the laws of Darwinian evolution. Four dramatic panorama drawings, inspired by dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History, introduce audiences to new and imaginary species in Koren’s bestiary. In the series Hôtel de Paris, he populates imagined architectural spaces with his own fantastic creatures, furry beings scuttling along on two or more legs.
Prior to the opening reception on February 4, the public is invited to a free talk, “The Art of The New Yorker: Drawing and Decision — A Conversation with Cartoonists Lee Lorenz and Edward Koren,” in Fairfield University’s George F. Diffley Board Room in Bellarmine Hall. Koren and Lorenz will speak at 5 p.m. about their years as cartoonists and their time together at The New Yorker.
Edward Koren: The Capricious Line is curated by Diana Fane and the late David Rosand, developed by the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Gallery, New York, and organized for tour by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC. This exhibition is made possible, in part, by the National Endowment for the Humanities, with additional support from the Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation. The Westport Library is a community partner, and TownVibe is the media sponsor for this exhibition.
Image credit: Edward Koren, 24 - Hour Banking, 1990. Mixed media on BFK Rives paper. Photo courtesy of the artist.