Born in Philadelphia in 1943, R. Crumb has used the popular medium of the comic book to address the absurdity of social conventions, political disillusionment, irony, racial and gender stereotypes, sexual fantasies, and fetishes. Inspired by Thomas Nast, Honoré Daumier, T.S. Sullivant, James Gillray, amongst others, his drawings offer a satirical critique of modern consumer culture, and often seem to possess an outsider's perspective—a self-conscious stance which Crumb often relates to his personal life.
In 2006, the artist joined David Zwirner, where he has had three solo exhibitions. Art & Beauty marked Crumb's first presentation at David Zwirner, London, on view April 15 though June 2, 2016. On occasion of the exhibition, David Zwirner Books published Art & Beauty Magazine: Drawing By R. Crumb. On view January 12 though February 18, 2017, David Zwirner, New York presents an exhibition of the collaborative work of Aline Kominsky-Crumb and R. Crumb.
The artist's 2010 gallery show, The Bible Illuminated: R. Crumb's Book of Genesis, presented 207 individual black-and-white drawings from his now landmark The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb. Published by W.W. Norton in October 2009, the book chronicles all fifty chapters of Genesis in a tapestry of detail and storytelling, rendered frame by frame in meticulous comic-book fashion. The momentous project received instant critical acclaim, topping many bestseller lists, including #1 on the New York Times Graphic Books list. Over 200,000 copies have been printed worldwide, and translation rights have been sold to fifteen countries, with published translations currently in circulation in French, German, and Italian. The exhibition was previously on view at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, in 2009, before traveling to the Portland Art Museum, Oregon; Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio; Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine; and the San Jose Museum of Art, California. In 2013, it was presented as part of the 55th Venice Biennale, curated by Massimiliano Gioni.
In 2016, the Cartoonmuseum Basel hosted a major two-person exhibition, Aline und Robert Crumb - Drawn Together. A retrospective of Crumb's work was held in 2012 at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. In 2011, his work was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators, New York. A major solo show devoted to Crumb's work was organized by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, in 2007, and traveled from 2008 to 2009 to the Frye Art Museum, Seattle; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston; and the Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana, California. Other recent one-person exhibitions include the Whitechapel Gallery, London, a show which to traveled the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (both 2005), and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2004). The artist was the subject of a critically acclaimed documentary by Terry Zwigoff. Crumb was named the best film of 1994 by the late critic Gene Siskel and won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1995.
Work by the artist is represented in major museum collections worldwide, including the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The artist currently lives in the south of France.