Press Release: Silent Pictures

James Gallery’s Silent Pictures Explores the Nonverbal Power of Comics


Inspired by and Featuring Works from Art Spiegelman’s Personal Collection

Silent Pictures, running from September 1 through October 11 in the James Gallery, will focus on aspects of comic book structure and syntax that do not depend on words to advance an image sequence. The exhibition is inspired by artist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Art Spiegelman's personal collection of wordless comics and graphic novels -- mostly black and white rare artist books from the 1930s. The show will feature a selection of these books, as well as more recent “abstract comics,” and a related film program -- all of which investigate essential qualities and aesthetics of this hugely popular medium. (Pictured: Woodcut from David N. Holzman's In the Gulf, 1989.)


The James Gallery is located off the lobby of the Graduate Center at 365 Fifth Avenue (between 34th & 35th Streets). Hours are Tuesdays through Fridays, 12–8 pm, and 12–6 pm on Saturdays & Sundays. Admission is free; for more information call 212-817-7138.  An opening reception for Silent Pictures will be held on Thursday, September 10, 6-8 pm.

The abstract comics, compiled by art historian and artist Andrei Molotiu for a just released anthology, Abstract Comics (Fantagraphics Books, 2009), call attention to the formal mechanisms that underlie all comics. Where the earlier art collected by Spiegelman retains a narrative, often politically charged thrust, the comics gathered by Molotiu emphasize the dynamic graphics that lead the eye and mind from panel to panel, suggesting that these structural elements are fundamental to the emotional register of the medium. (Pictured: Andrei Molotiu, from The Panic, 2006.)

The exhibition will also feature a specially commissioned wall drawing by Renee French, a hand-drawn animated film by the British artist team Rachel Cattle and Steve Richards, and a new collaborative project for the Graduate Center's Fifth Avenue lobby display windows by Gail Fitzgerald and Carl Ostendarp. (Pictured: Renee French, Untitled (Plank), 2009.)

In addition, Columbia University art historian and film scholar Noam Elcott will curate a related film program titled "Comic-Film-Strip." To be installed in a small gallery-within-the-gallery, this program will feature mostly wordless, animated historic films, in which the frame-by-frame narrative parallels developments in the wordless comics that also emerged during the first half of the 20th century. “Comic-Film-Strip” will include selections of films by Emile Cohl, Walter Ruttmann, Norman McLaren, and Robert Breer, as well as a very early partially animated film by William Kentridge. Elcott will elaborate on “Comic-Film-Strip” in a public conversation to be held September 25, 6-7:30 pm in the Graduate Center’s Skylight Lounge.

 

The Graduate Center is devoted primarily to doctoral studies and awards most of the City University of New York’s Ph.D.s. An internationally recognized center for advanced studies and a national model for public doctoral education, the school offers more than thirty doctoral programs as well as a number of master’s programs. Many of its faculty members are among the world’s leading scholars in their respective fields, and its alumni hold major positions in industry and government, as well as in academia. The Graduate Center is also home to more than thirty interdisciplinary research centers and institutes focused on areas of compelling social, civic, cultural, and scientific concerns. Located in a landmark Fifth Avenue building, the Graduate Center has become a vital part of New York City’s intellectual and cultural life with its extensive array of public lectures, exhibitions, concerts, and theatrical events. Further information on the Graduate Center and its programs can be found at www.gc.cuny.edu.

Submitted on: AUG 1, 2009

Category: James Gallery, Press Room