The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago presents the first-ever survey of internationally celebrated comic book artist and graphic novelist, Daniel Clowes. On view June 29 to October 13, 2013, Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes features excerpts from the Academy Award-nominated graphic storyteller’s multifaceted career, with more than 150 works from 1989 to the present day. The exhibition includes both the original drawings from which Clowes’s cartoons, comic book series, graphic novels, and illustrations are made, as well as the original comics and graphic novels.
Organized by the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) -- in the city that Chicago-born Clowes now calls home -- Modern Cartoonist is expanded significantly for its MCA presentation. Clowes has created two new commissions that occupy two massive endwalls of the installation and give the impression of “windows” where visitors look straight out onto a Clowesian view of Chicago. These murals are filled with wonderful Chicago-specific symbols and details, frozen in time from the 1970s when Clowes grew up in Chicago. They are displayed as part of an exhibition design that blends contemporary graphic style with shades of a Victorian parlor. Equally deft as a draughtsman and a writer, Clowes’s work features character-driven narratives, tinged with dark and witty realism. To date, he has published nearly 50 comic books and graphic novels including Ghost World, Art School Confidential, David Boring, Ice Haven, Wilson, and Mister Wonderful.
Throughout his 25-year career, Clowes has been at the forefront of artistic and cultural movements. In 1989, Clowes’s groundbreaking comic book series Eightball defined indie culture with wry humor, venom, and empathy. With each successive graphic novel he has been praised for his emotionally compelling narratives, which have earned him a large following and multiple industry awards including several Eisner, Harvey, and Ignatz awards.
Clowes gained wide recognition in 2001 with the release of Ghost World, the Terry Zwigoff-directed, Academy Award-nominated film for which Clowes wrote the screenplay. This was followed in 2006 by the release of Art School Confidential, based in part on Clowes’s own schooling. Today, an adaptation of Clowes’s graphic novel Wilson is currently in development at Fox Searchlight with Oscar award-winning director Alexander Payne (The Descendants) leading the project.
Clowes is also a highly acclaimed magazine illustrator with work appearing in Time, Newsweek, GQ, and many other magazines. Beginning in 2007, Clowes became a regular cover artist for the New Yorker and created the twenty-episode series Mr. Wonderful for The New York Times Magazine.
Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes is organized by guest curator Susan Miller and OMCA Senior Curator of Art René de Guzman. The Chicago presentation is organized by MCA Curator Lynne Warren.