An installation view of the exhibition, R. Crumb: Drawing for Print, at David Zwirner, dated 2019.

R. Crumb

Drawing for Print: Mind Fucks, Kultur Klashes, Pulp Fiction & Pulp Fact by the Illustrious R. Crumb

David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition organized by Robert Storr that examines the mind and career of R. Crumb. The  exhibition will feature a wide array of printed matter culled from the artist’s archive: tear sheets of drawings  and comics, taken directly from the publications where the works first appeared, as well as related ephemera. These often fragile works on paper will be installed across the walls of the gallery’s 519 West 19th Street space in New York. Further illuminating Crumb’s practice, the show will also feature a selection of rare sketchbooks and original drawings by the artist.

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Image: Installation view, Drawing for Print: Mind Fucks, Kultur Klashes, Pulp Fiction & Pulp Fact by the Illustrious R. Crumb, David Zwirner, New York, 2019

Dates
February 21April 13, 2019
Opening Reception
Thursday, February 21, 6–8 PM
Curators
Robert Storr
Artist
An installation view of the exhibition, R. Crumb: Drawing for Print, at David Zwirner, dated 2019.

"Crumb is perhaps the most influential cartoonist of his or any generation, famous for decades of work that reflect an idiosyncratic variety of fascinations—arcane twenties music, everyday street scenes, the female form—yet have proved capable of mass appeal. But ‘cartoonist’ fails to convey the full scope of the Crumb oeuvre, which includes the handmade comics he created as a teenager; the underground periodicals he generated by the score in the sixties; and the increasingly realistic work he has produced since then, probing the lives of twenties bluesmen, authors, biblical patriarchs, and his own family.… Crumb has been a creator of books on his own terms, helping to spawn a thriving DIY print culture of zines and graphic novels that has revived and reinvented the comic form. It is a remarkable achievement for someone who came of age when the comic book was the lowest form of literary life imaginable, attacked by Congress and shunned or ignored by respectable society." —Ted Widmer, "R. Crumb, The Art of Comics No. 1," The Paris Review, 2010

"My brother [Charles] got me drawing comic books at a really young age and I never thought of doing anything else. It’s all I ever could do. We also watched a lot of TV, a lot of cartoons and Disney. I was really a child of pop culture.… I started collecting comics seriously around 1952.… I was also discovering old visual stuff, books of eighteenth-century engravers and cartoonists like Hogarth, Gillray, Cruikshank, Thomas Rowlandson. Gillray’s stuff is so vulgar, it’s great. There was very little published, but I was interested. I love Thomas Nast, he was a real inspiration.… I was prowling around in libraries, in used bookstores, I got very interested in nineteenth-century graphic styles, engraving." —R. Crumb in conversation with Ted Widmer, "R. Crumb, The Art of Comics No. 1," The Paris Review, 2010

Cover of a notebook by R. Crumb, titled Crumb Brothers Almanac no. 24, September 1959, dated 1959-1962.

R. Crumb

Crumb Brothers Almanac no. 24, September 1959, 1959-1962
Forty (40) page notebook with graphite, ink, and colored pencil
8 3/8 x 6 3/4 inches (21.3 x 17.1 cm)
A drawing by R. Crumb titled Stormy Daniels, dated 2019.

R. Crumb

Stormy Daniels, 2019
Ink, correction fluid, and graphite on paper
16 3/8 x 13 1/2 inches (41.6 x 34.3 cm) Framed: 23 x 20 3/8 inches (58.4 x 51.8 cm)

"We looked at it [Mad magazine] on the newsstands until I was fourteen, when I first actually started buying that stuff and bringing it home. I remember when I first saw Harvey Kurtzman’s Humbug magazine in 1957, I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was so strange. This powerful artwork that satirized American life and it was beautifully drawn and obscure and strange. That was one of my major escapes from reality when I was a kid, Harvey Kurtzman’s stuff.… I lived out my youth on paper, basically. I am a bookmaker. I see blank books, I want to fill them—notebooks, sketchbooks, blank pages. I never conceived of any of it being published, it was totally for my own edification. I had ideas for comic strips that I had sketched down. And later it all got published, much to my amazement." —R. Crumb in conversation with Ted Widmer in The Paris Review, 2010

"It is … not surprising that Crumb executed most of his drawings in sketchbooks. Few of them can be considered sketches of ideas, most being completely finished drawings, some even individually signed and dated. The sketchbooks are actually diaries that record spontaneous thoughts and some long statements and commentaries, in part on social, cultural or political matters." —Alfred M. Fischer, "Yeah but is it art," in Yeah, But Is It Art: R. Crumb Drawings and Comics, 2004

Spread from a sketchbook by R. Crumb, dated 1979 to 1981.

R. Crumb

Sketchbook, 1979-1981
One-hundred and fifty-two (152) page sketchbook with ink, correction fluid, graphite, collage, and tape
12 3/8 x 10 1/4 inches (31.4 x 26 cm)
An installation view of the exhibition, R. Crumb: Drawing for Print, at David Zwirner, dated 2019.

"It is difficult to date the exact origins of underground comix, since they emerged from various sources (amateur ’zines, college humor magazines, underground newspapers, and psychedelic rock poster art) before coalescing into a distinct movement in the late sixties. It is not difficult, however, to pinpoint the birth of the underground comic book as a recognizable class of object; that distinction belongs to R. Crumb’s Zap Comix No. 1, printed and sold in early 1968.… Crumb usurped what was then the most common vehicle for long-form comics, the newsstand-style comic book, and turned it into a deceptively friendly-looking container for stories that could hardly be carried on mainstream newsstands, due to their iconoclastic, sometimes scabrous, and indeed radical content." —Charles Hatfield, "Comix, Comic Shops, and the Rise of Alternative Comics, Post 1968," in Alternative Comics: An Emerging Literature, 2005

"[Crumb] deliberately creates and develops his characters as personified ‘social commentaries.’ The most prominent and certainly best-loved among them—because he offers the widest possibilities for self-identification is doubt less Fritz the Cat. He represents the young, dynamic, self-satisfied ‘upstart, who was trying to live up to the Jack Kerouac ideal of the hipster on the road.’ But he turns out to be a dreamer, who in the end can’t shake off his bourgeois origin. Mr. Natural, another very popular figure from Crumb’s human menagerie, is the embodiment of the guru, a smart aleck who only comes up with empty, trite proclamations according to the motto: you get what you deserve." —Alfred M. Fischer, "Yeah but is it art," 2004

A drawing by R. Crumb, titled Mystic Funnies #1: I Don't Get It, dated 1997.

R. Crumb

Mystic Funnies #1: I Don't Get It, 1997
Ink and correction fluid on paper
14 x 11 inches (35.5 x 28 cm) Framed: 20 5/8 x 17 5/8 inches (52.4 x 44.8 cm)
An untitled drawing by R. Crumb, dated 2014.

R. Crumb

Untitled, 2014
Ink and correction fluid on paper
12 3/4 x 9 5/8 inches (32.3 x 24.5 cm) Framed: 19 1/4 x 16 1/4 inches (48.9 x 41.3 cm)

"I had the compulsion to draw my sex fantasies and foist them on the public.… When I first started doing it in ’68 or ’69, the people who had loved my work before that, some of them were shocked and alienated by it—especially the women, of course. I lost all the women. I’m not antifeminist. I like strong, independent women, like the matriarchs of Genesis—they ordered the men around. The sex-fantasy thing was a whole other side of myself, and when that started coming out, I could no longer be America’s best-loved hippie cartoonist.… Seeing S. Clay Wilson’s work was a big breakthrough, because he just drew anything that came into his head, any violent, crazy, sexual thing. I saw that and I said, OK, anything goes, I’m just going to show it all, and reveal the dark side, everything. Sometimes I try to psychoanalyze those old comics, like the Big Ass Comics that I did in 1969 or ’70, those sex-fantasy stories, and figure out what they’re really about.… Give me twenty years on the couch with Freud and I’ll figure it out. I don’t know." —R. Crumb in conversation with Ted Widmer in The Paris Review, 2010

"Not only does Crumb believe that the unrestrained disclosure of his sexual attitudes helps make ‘somebody feel better to see that other people share his fantasies,’ he also takes the ‘heat’ for the racism rampant in American society with the intention of exorcising it. Completely convinced that nobody is free of prejudice, that racism is embodied in society and confrontation with it therefore imperative, he tackles the problem head on without regard for taboos.… Crumb is not so naive as to believe that prejudice, which he sees as part of our ‘collective subconscious,’ can be eliminated in this world, but he is convinced that this topic needs to be kept in the public eye in order to keep it under control." —Alfred M. Fischer, "Yeah but is it art," 2004

A drawing by R. Crumb, titled Crazy Horse, dated 1996.

R. Crumb

Crazy Horse, 1996
Ink and correction fluid on paper
12 3/8 x 20 7/8 inches (31.4 x 53 cm) Framed: 20 7/8 x 28 1/8 inches (52.9 x 71.2 cm)
A drawing by R. Crumb, titled Self Portrait with Third Eye, dated 2001.

R. Crumb

Self Portrait with Third Eye, 2001
Ink, graphite, and correction fluid on paper
10 x 7 1/4 inches (25.4 x 18.4 cm) Framed: 17 3/8 x 14 1/2 inches (44.1 x 36.8 cm)

"Noteworthy are Crumb’s words on his experience with LSD that, on the one hand, made him uneasy but, on the other, he welcomed because it freed him to tap his subconscious more directly. He discovered: ‘It was my brain. I had no control. NO control … which was good for the art.’ For years the composer Morton Feldman brooded over the problem of ‘control,’ more precisely, ‘to what degree does one give up control, and still keep that last vestige where one can call the work one’s own.’… Crumb … after his first success, kept an appropriate distance to the ‘scene.’ He remained independent and refused to identify his work with an historical position. He would doubtless be in complete accord with Feldman’s assertion: ‘If there is no such thing as a moral, or an honest, or a 'true' position in art, what does approximate it is an art with just a little less … control.’" —Alfred M. Fischer, "Yeah but is it art," 2004

Spread from a sketchbook by R. Crumb, dated 1971.

R. Crumb

Sketchbook, 1971
Ninety-four (94) page sketchbook with ink, correction fluid, and graphite
10 1/4 x 8 1/8 inches (26 x 20.6 cm)
Spread from a sketchbook by R. Crumb, dated 1979 to 1981.

R. Crumb

Sketchbook, 1979-1981
One-hundred and fifty-two (152) page sketchbook with ink, correction fluid, graphite, collage, and tape
12 3/8 x 10 1/4 inches (31.4 x 26 cm)
Cover of a notebook by R. Crumb, titled Crumb Brothers Almanac no. 24, September 1959, dated 1959-1962.

R. Crumb

Crumb Brothers Almanac no. 24, September 1959, 1959-1962
Forty (40) page notebook with graphite, ink, and colored pencil
8 3/8 x 6 3/4 inches (21.3 x 17.1 cm)
A drawing in eight parts by R. Crumb, titled Footsy, dated 1987.

R. Crumb

Footsy, 1987
Ink, correction fluid, and graphite on board in eight (8) parts
Each: 16 1/2 x 12 1/4 inches (41.9 x 31.1 cm) Framed, each: 23 3/4 x 19 1/4 inches (60.3 x 48.9 cm)
A diptych by R. Crumb, titled Mr. Natural Wants to Talk to You!, dated 1999.

R. Crumb

Mr. Natural Wants to Talk to You!, 1999
Ink, graphite, and correction fluid on board
Diptych Each: 13 5/8 x 9 1/4 inches (34.6 x 23.5 cm) Framed, each: 20 1/2 x 16 1/4 inches (52.1 x 41.3 cm)
A drawing by R. Crumb, titled Mystic Funnies #1: I Don't Get It, dated 1997.

R. Crumb

Mystic Funnies #1: I Don't Get It, 1997
Ink and correction fluid on paper
14 x 11 inches (35.5 x 28 cm) Framed: 20 5/8 x 17 5/8 inches (52.4 x 44.8 cm)
An untitled drawing by R. Crumb, dated 2002.

R. Crumb

Untitled, 2002
Ink and correction fluid on paper
14 x 11 inches (35.6 x 27.9 cm) Framed: 20 1/2 x 17 1/2 inches (52.1 x 44.5 cm)
A drawing by R. Crumb, untitled, dated 2002.

R. Crumb

Untitled, 2002
Ink and correction fluid on paper
14 x 11 inches (35.5 x 28 cm)
An untitled drawing by R. Crumb, dated 2014.

R. Crumb

Untitled, 2014
Ink and correction fluid on paper
12 3/4 x 9 5/8 inches (32.3 x 24.5 cm) Framed: 19 1/4 x 16 1/4 inches (48.9 x 41.3 cm)
An untitled drawing by R. Crumb, dated 2015.

R. Crumb

Untitled, 2015
Ink and correction fluid on paper
12 3/4 x 9 5/8 inches (32.4 x 24.5 cm) Framed: 19 1/4 x 16 1/4 inches (48.9 x 41.3 cm)
A drawing by R. Crumb titled Stormy Daniels, dated 2019.

R. Crumb

Stormy Daniels, 2019
Ink, correction fluid, and graphite on paper
16 3/8 x 13 1/2 inches (41.6 x 34.3 cm) Framed: 23 x 20 3/8 inches (58.4 x 51.8 cm)
A drawing by R. Crumb, titled Kafka for Beginners, Pages 144-145, dated 1993.

R. Crumb

Kafka for Beginners, Pages 144-145, 1993
Ink on paper
12 1/2 x 17 1/8 inches (31.8 x 44.5 cm) Framed: 18 3/4 x 23 3/8 x 1 1/8 inches (47.6 x 59.4 x 2.9 cm)
A drawing by R. Crumb, titled Crazy Horse, dated 1996.

R. Crumb

Crazy Horse, 1996
Ink and correction fluid on paper
12 3/8 x 20 7/8 inches (31.4 x 53 cm) Framed: 20 7/8 x 28 1/8 inches (52.9 x 71.2 cm)
A drawing by R. Crumb, titled Self Portrait with Third Eye, dated 2001.

R. Crumb

Self Portrait with Third Eye, 2001
Ink, graphite, and correction fluid on paper
10 x 7 1/4 inches (25.4 x 18.4 cm) Framed: 17 3/8 x 14 1/2 inches (44.1 x 36.8 cm)

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