New York

Ben Katchor

The Jewish Museum

As Ben Katchor is the first to admit, there’s something counterintuitive, even perverse about a museum exhibition devoted to cartoon strips. Most of what was on view in this show—highlights from twenty years of deadline-sponsored creativity—is readily available, and more comfortable to peruse, in book form. So maybe the point was to encourage viewers to scrutinize the subtleties in the original drawings—to savor, for instance, careful archipelagoes of Wite-Out, lost in reproduction and now lustrously visible? Devoted Katchor fans could spend hours indulging in this kind of connoisseurial peering and snooping; I did. But I didn’t glean much. Katchor is not a conventional fine artist taking a sneaky detour around the gallery system; he’s a maker of cartoons, reproducible amalgams of image and text. As if to underscore this point, many of the pieces on the walls weren’t original

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