For over four decades, 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.
Born in Philadelphia in 1943, R. Crumb moved to the dynamic Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco in 1967, and relocated in 1991 to the south of France, where he currently lives and works. Crumb joined David Zwirner in 2006. In 2016, Art & Beauty marked Crumb’s first solo presentation at David Zwirner, London. In 2017, David Zwirner, New York featured an exhibition of the collaborative work of Aline Kominsky-Crumb and R. Crumb. Drawing for Print: Mind Fucks, Kultur Klashes, Pulp Fiction & Pulp Fact by the Illustrious R. Crumb, which was presented at the gallery’s New York location in 2019, marked the artist’s fourth solo presentation with David Zwirner.
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 Aline Kominsky-Crumb & Robert Crumb: Drawn Together, the first comprehensive museum presentation of the artists’ joint work. 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 one-person exhibitions have been organized by the Whitechapel Gallery, London, a show which to traveled the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (both 2005), and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2004). Terry Zwigoff’s documentary 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.