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Syracuse University Library opens vault for exhibition of 100 years of political cartoons
Syracuse University Library opens vault for exhibition of 100 years of political cartoonsSeptember 15, 2004Edward Byrnesedbyrnes@syr.edu
Syracuse University Library has opened an exhibition of the political and editorial cartoon artwork of some of the nation’s most influential humorists and cartoonists from the mid-nineteenth century through the 1960s. The exhibition, which is free and open to the public, features dozens of original sketches by popular artists including Thomas Nast, D.C. Johnston, Carey Orr, Roy Justus, Boris Drucker, Ted Key and Paul Conrad. The pieces chosen for this exhibition were selected from the Library’s extensive collection of editorial, general humor and political artwork created by more than 150 artists.
An opening reception will be held Oct. 7 at 3:30 p.m. on the sixth floor of the E.S. Bird Library to celebrate the exhibition, which will be displayed in recently renovated exhibition cases made possible by a gift from Joseph Spector ’42. Library curators will be on hand to discuss the cartoons on display.
“We wanted to create an exhibition that tied in with theme of this years Syracuse Symposium, which is humor,” says Christian Yves Dupont, director of the Library’s Special Collections Research Center. “Given our extensive cartoonist collections, an historical selection of political cartoons from the past two centuries seemed an obvious way to engage this theme in this election year.”
Dupont says he and his staff sought to combine historical and humorous perspectives in choosing the pieces for the exhibition. The Symposium, which is a supporter of the exhibition, is bringing several well-known cartoonists and humorists to campus this fall, including Garry Trudeau, Bob Mankoff and P.J. O’Rourke.
“It’s quite educational and refreshing to step back and take a look at how wars and politics were drawn?and quartered?by those who sharpened their teeth on the old saw ‘the more things change, the more they remain the same,'” says curator Kathleen Manwaring.
In the 1960s, a group of SU Library curators were asked to create a repository to support research in the areas of architecture, industrial design, journalism, literature, music, philosophy, religion, photography, social and political history, transportation and the visual and performing arts. The group, led by former curator Martin H. Bush, solicited contemporary manuscript collections from more than 150 cartoonists. Although academic researchers paid little attention to cartoonists at the time, scholars and the public can now enjoy the fruit of the group’s foresight, as the study of popular culture?including cartoons?has since been recognized as a reflection of nearly every aspect of society.
The lighthearted artwork of Hal Foster (creator of Prince Valiant), Milton Caniff (Steve Canyon), Mort Walker (Beetle Bailey), and Roy Crane (Buzz Sawyer); the sophisticated lifestyle sketches of Alan Dunn, Mary Petty, Syd Hoff and Gluyas Williams, often featured in such publications as The New Yorker, Saturday Evening Post and Collier’s Magazine; and editorial and political cartoons by artists including F.O. Alexander, Gene Basset, C.D. Batchelor and Arthur Poinier, join the archives of Margaret Bourke-White, Albert Schweitzer, Marcel Breuer, Joyce Carol Oates and others in the Library’s Special Collections Research Center.
The exhibition is open weekdays, with the exception of holidays, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. through Jan. 27, 2005. It can also be viewed online at http://scrc.syr.edu. For more information, or for class or group tours, call (315) 443-9752.