Nicole Rudick

  • Karl Wirsum. Photo: Derek Eller Gallery.
    passages May 29, 2021

    Karl Wirsum (1939–2021)

    FOR A BOOKLET published on the occasion of the third Hairy Who exhibition in Chicago, in 1968, Karl Wirsum drew a woman whose head has been replaced by a mandala—not a groovy meditative symbol but a pulsating, agitated, electrified pattern vibrating in red, blue, yellow, and green. This must have been what the inside of Wirsum’s mind looked like: protean and always switched on. For sixty years—from his graduation from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1961, through his association with the Hairy Who in the mid to late ’60s, and right up to his death on May 6—Wirsum produced a legion

  • Page detail from Dominique Goblet’s Pretending Is Lying (New York Review Comics, 2017).

    Dominique Goblet’s Pretending Is Lying

    Pretending Is Lying, by Dominique Goblet; translated by Sophie Yanow. New York: New York Review Comics, 2017. 149 pages.

    THE RAW EMOTION of Pretending Is Lying, a memoir by the Belgian cartoonist Dominique Goblet, is already hinted at in the book’s introductory story. A child—the author as a young girl—is injured in a tumble on the sidewalk and tended to in a moment of parental magic: Goblet’s mother instantly repairs the torn knees of her daughter’s stockings by having Goblet simply put them on backward. The winsome anecdote ends brightly, but the strip is rendered in sharp red lines

  • Page from Brian Chippendale’s Puke Force (Drawn & Quarterly, 2015).

    Brian Chippendale’s Puke Force

    Puke Force, by Brian Chippendale. Montreal: Drawn & Quarterly, 2015. 120 pages.

    NOISE IS IN THE EAR OF THE BEHOLDER—a “catchall phrase for overwhelming stuff with abstract elements or ‘energy,’ elements involving harsher tendencies,” as Brian Chippendale said in a 2012 interview with The Believer. Noise, as a category and a descriptor, is frequently used to characterize Chippendale’s music: the pummeling drum lines and incoherent vocals of the two-man band Lightning Bolt. But it’s in the eye of the beholder, too: The term is often deployed as a shorthand description of the style of his

  • Left: Cover of David Wojnarowicz, James Romberger, and Marguerite Van Cook, 7 Miles a Second (1996). Right: Page six from the book.
    interviews March 08, 2013

    James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook

    James Romberger and Marguerite Van Cook are New York–based artists who, in 1984, opened the East Village gallery Ground Zero, which showed pioneering installation, performance, and multimedia work. One of their earliest artists was David Wojnarowicz, the painter, photographer, performance artist, and filmmaker whose provocative work helped define the downtown scene and the rising tide of AIDS activism.

    In the mid-1980s, the trio began collaborating on 7 Miles a Second, a comic book based on Wojnarowicz’s autobiographical writings. Drawn and edited by Romberger and colored by Van Cook, it is a

  • Gary Panter, Boarding Pass, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 48 1/2 x 35 1/2".
    picks October 28, 2011

    Gary Panter

    Gary Panter’s first solo show at Fredericks & Freiser is an odd affair. It is presented much like a debut exhibition, with introductory remarks about his general style, yet it offers a quarter century of work. What's more, the show’s twenty paintings on canvas and paper draw from the entire length of his production to date, with a focus on his recent works, but the selection does not aptly represent his breadth. Still, one is given a sense of Panter’s versatility and omnivorous art-historical and pop-cultural consumption. His newest canvases, of which there are several here, pit Op art’s illusory

  • Rachell Sumpter, Family, 2011, gouache, pastel on paper, 12 x 11”.
    picks July 15, 2011

    Rachell Sumpter

    The seven paintings in Rachell Sumpter’s latest exhibition—bright, delicate evocations of tribal existence in forests thick with plant life—measure just under one square foot each. Populated by impossibly small human figures and vines the width of a thread, these tiny tableaux articulate the intimate aspect of communal living while also setting it awash in the vastness of the natural world. They are akin in this regard to Justine Kurland’s photographs of families set amid the idylls of nature, as in her 2007 series “Of Woman Born.” Family (all works 2011), whose blue-green palette and upward-trailing

  • Dash Shaw, The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D., 2009, stills from an animated Web series.
    film December 21, 2009

    Comic Strip

    CINEMATIC IS OFTEN A FRAUGHT TERM when used to describe comics. On the one hand, it can aptly express a story’s visual syntax (close-ups, jump cuts, dissolves); applied a different way, however, it derogatorily suggests that a series of panels are ready-made storyboards. But for a cartoonist like Dash Shaw, who revels in drawing’s fluidity and expressive imperfections, the transition between comics and animation is a natural one. His splendid four-part animated web series for IFC.com, The Unclothed Man in the 35th Century A.D., underscores what’s best about all of his work—its eclecticism and

  • Mariah Robertson, Untitled (9), 2009, color photograph, 27 x 27".
    picks October 27, 2009

    Mariah Robertson

    While most young photographers plunge into theory, politics, or portraiture to develop their themes, Mariah Robertson can’t get out of the darkroom. Her aim is to explore the process of making pictures, rather than making meaning, and she uses all the technological tools at her disposal—color separation, oversaturated hues, photograms, chemical drips, and so on—to disrupt the form’s conventions.

    Cut haphazardly from large rolls of photographic paper and allowed to curl and buckle within their frames (making them sculptures as much as photographs), the seventeen images in this show mix the aesthetics

  • Left: Cover of Abstract Comics (2009), edited by Andrei Molotiu. Right: Gary Panter, Mr. Mxyzptlk, 2005, ink on paper, 8 x 6".
    interviews August 10, 2009

    Andrei Molotiu

    Andrei Molotiu is an artist and art historian who teaches at Indiana University, Bloomington, and who recently edited Abstract Comics: The Anthology, the first collection devoted to the genre. Offering experiments by established cartoonists as well as new pieces by emerging artists, the book is available from Fantagraphics and will serve as the exhibition catalogue for “Silent Pictures,” which opens on September 1 at the CUNY Graduate Center’s James Gallery. Nautilus, a collection of Molotiu’s own abstract comics, has just been published by Fahrenheit Editions.

    ABSTRACT COMICS ARE COMICS that

  • Basil Wolverton, Dreamer, c. 1950, ink on paper, 11 1/2 x 7 1/4".
    picks June 30, 2009

    Basil Wolverton

    What do Miss Bedney Flunt, Miss Fludney Bent, Miss Flentney Bunt, and Miss Blentney Funt have in common? Unreasonably odd proboscises and the hilarious misfortune of being drawn by Basil Wolverton. An artist and writer of sci-fi and humor comics from the 1930s through the ’70s and an alum of Mad magazine in subsequent decades, Wolverton showed a consistent partiality for screwball portraiture, and the nearly 150 works in this exhibition constitute “a ghastly gang of goops” (to borrow a phrase from the artist himself). His mid-’60s sketches of illogically deformed heads for Topps chewing-gum

  • Jaromír Funke, Untitled (Bridge in Kolín), 1922, gelatin silver print, 8 11/16 x 8 1/16".

    “Jaromír Funke and the Amateur Avant-Garde”

    The first extensive show of Funke’s photographs outside Europe displays his lyric imagery alongside that of twenty-two of his compatriots. Some seventy works will contextualize this lesser known movement of self-taught photographers within the interwar explosion of avant-garde art.

    A leading member of the Czech avant-garde in the 1920s and ’30s, cofounder of the Czech Photographic Society, and an influential teacher, Jaromír Funke (1896–1945) produced abstract still lifes and images of modern and classical architecture whose provocative play of shadows and forms invites comparisons to the work of Atget, Man Ray, Morandi, and Sheeler. Rather than highlighting these affinities, however, the first extensive show of Funke’s photographs outside Europe displays his lyric imagery alongside that of twenty-two of his compatriots, including Josef Sudek

  • Jeff Zenick,  Because (detail), 1992, ink on paper, 9 x 6".

    “Silent Pictures”

    The show combines selections from Art Spiegelman’s collection of rare early-twentieth-century wordless comics with materials gathered in the course of cartoonist Andrei Molotiu’s research into contemporary abstract comics.

    Thankfully overcoming the curatorial urges to which comics have lately been subjected—the high-low quibble and the drive to canonize—“Silent Pictures” instead undertakes an oblique investigation of the medium’s essential qualities, examining formal structure and syntax through wordless and nonnarrative sequences. The show combines selections from Art Spiegelman’s collection of rare early-twentieth-century wordless comics with materials gathered in the course of cartoonist Andrei Molotiu’s research into contemporary abstract comics. The latter group includes work by an