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KURTZMAN ON DISPLAY

Harvey Kurtzman photo“The Art of Harvey Kurtzman” will be on display at the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators clubhouse in midtown Manhattan, opening on March 6 and continuing through May 11, 2013. The diverse exhibition will showcase over 120 works in the museum’s two-floor gallery.

As the creator of Mad, Harvey Kurtzman may be the most influential American cartoonist since Walt Disney: Disney’s vision of America as a small town brimming with good neighbors and obedient children was sharply contradicted by Kurtzman’s satiric portrait of an urban society Harvey Kurtzman Melvinswarming with grasping politicians and greedy promoters and sexist bosses. Both visions persist but not simultaneously. 

The nation’s youth outgrow Disney as soon as they are old enough to begin reading Mad, which infects them with a certain cynicism about the icons of American culture as well as the functioning of its institutions. Most of the underground cartoonists of the late 1960s were inspired by Mad.

More about the exhibition from the website of the National Cartoonists Society:

Co-curators Monte Beauchamp (founder, editor, and designer of the comic art/illustration anthologies Blab! and Blab World), and publisher/cartoonist Denis Kitchen (co-author of “The Art of Harvey Kurtzman” and representative of the estate) Frontline Combat coverhave assembled the most comprehensive assemblage of Kurtzman art to date, culled from select private and family collections. Highlights include: Kurtzman life drawings from 1941; rarely-seen late 1940s strips done for the New York Herald-Tribune as well as for Marvel’s Stan Lee; key covers, strips and full stories Kurtzman created for Mad, Frontline Combat, Two-Fisted Tales, Humbug and Help!, sometimes in collaboration with fellow comics geniuses Will Elder and Jack Davis. In addition, “Kurtzmania,” numerous rare artifacts and ancillary publications seldom seen by the public, will be on display.

The Society of Illustrators, founded in 1901, is the oldest nonprofit organization solely dedicated to the art and appreciation of illustration in America. Prominent Society members have been Maxfield Parrish, N.C. Wyeth and Norman Rockwell, among others. The Museum of American Illustration was established by the Society in 1981 and is located in the Society’s vintage 1875 carriage house building in mid-town Manhattan.

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