What is beautifully presented in “Art Spiegelman’s Co-Mix: A Retrospective” at The Jewish Museum, in addition to original drawings from the “Maus” series, is the enormous range of work that Spiegelman produced beyond those volumes. Included are comic books, magazine illustrations, children’s books illustrations, political satire, trading cards and stickers, New Yorker covers, and even a collaboration with the dance group Pilobolus and a stained glass window for The High School of Art & Design, just to name a few.
The versatility and ease with which Spiegelman flows between mediums and genres, reveals an artist who is not willing to be summed up by a singular style or clever gimmick, or simply rely on his previous successes. The work reveals a thinker, a curious explorer, a master draftsman, someone who constantly reinvents himself, and most importantly, an artist with something to say. Spiegelman uses the medium of cartooning so skillfully, effectively, and in such a variety of ways that he erases the line between high and low art, and subverts the stereotypical “light” nature of cartoons to dive into heavy commentary.
As a teacher at The High School of Art & Design, I have the fortune of seeing Art Spiegelman’s stained glass mural on a daily basis. I have always looked up to the work of this legendary and iconic artist, and his work has had a tremendous influence on my own artistic development as an animator, specifically because I too have created work which is cartoon-based in which my father is a central character. Spiegelman paved the way for me and countless artists who use the cartooning and graphic novel mediums to explore personal and meaningful narrative subject matter. We are walking in Spiegelman’s footsteps.
“Art Spiegelman’s Co-Mix: A Retrospective” is on view at The Jewish Museum, 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, through March 23, 2014.
Hanan Harchol is a multimedia artist who creates paintings, drawings, animations, videos, and multimedia installations that explore the human condition through family narratives. His animation project, “Hanan Harchol: Jewish Food For Thought,” is on view at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion Museum, One West Fourth Street, New York, through June 27, 2014,