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Pioneers of the Comic Strip. A Different Avant-Garde

decoration23 June 2016|18 Sept. 2016

Spectacular, large and colorful – this is how comic strips captivated their audience, beginning
back in 1897. The middle classes, working classes, and a host of immigrants were equally
fascinated by the unfamiliar visual experience they encountered in American newspapers. From
June 23 to September 18, 2016, the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt is presenting the first extensive
thematic exhibition on the “Pioneers of the Comic Strip,” who - progressive and eager to
experiment - set the artistic and content-related standards of the early comic strips. The
exhibition features six outstanding, primarily American illustrators who shaped the cultural history
of the comic strip: Winsor McCay, Lyonel Feininger, Charles Forbell, Cliff Sterrett, George
Herriman, and Frank King. Unforgotten are Herriman’s absurd humor in Krazy Kat (from 1913),
the Surrealist and Expressionist visual worlds of McCay (from 1904) and Sterrett (from 1912
onwards), Feininger’s comic strips for the Chicago Tribune (1906-7), or the comic strip Gasoline
Alley by King (from 1921) told in real time over a period of three decades. With Forbell’s synthesis
of the arts Naughty Pete (1913), the Schirn enables visitors to the exhibition to rediscover a
forgotten illustrator.

The exhibition “Pioneers of the Comic Strip” presents approximately 230 pages of rare comic
strips from between 1905 and the 1940s, including very rare original drawings by comic strip
artists being shown to the public for the first time. Correlations between comic strips and
developments in the fine arts of the day also become apparent. Of what were once a million
pages of comic strips in the pioneering years, only few copies have survived. This can be
attributed to committed private collectors who recognized their artistic value on time and contrary
to public opinion.

Picture: Schirn Kunsthalle


23 June 2016|18 Sept. 2016
Schirn Kunsthalle
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