Thursday, July 23, 2009

Basil Wolverton: equal-opportunity cruelty

Today's New York Times has a detailed piece on the Basil Wolverton exhibit in New York City, including a slideshow of highlights from the exhibit.

I'd like to think their interest in the exhibit was piqued by the blog posts by me and my mom.

The author of the Times piece, Holland Cutter, says:

Wolverton’s art — I’ll use the word, though he shied away from it — could be incredibly cruel. The heads he drew look dreadfully diseased, or like genetic catastrophes, or like beings melted and scarred in an atomic blast.
Cutter then says that "his work comes across as spectacularly misogynistic," but he doesn't explain how that statement is consistent with his observation that "he turns men into freaks too." Based on what I've seen, he was at least as cruel to men, and he chose male subjects more often than women (even aside from his caricatures of real people).

As long as we're going to look at the art through a politically correct lens, wouldn't a more straightforward criticism be that his cartoons are offensive to people with actual deformities?

But why not judge for yourself? The exhibit runs till August 14 at the Barbara Gladstone Gallery, which is on 515 W. 24th St. (between 10th and 11th Ave.) in the Chelsea neighborhood of NYC. If you happen to be nearby, I highly recommend it.