The exhibition Comics Revisited highlights the crossings of the comics genre and the visual arts.
Born at the end of the nineteenth century after many historic precursors, it underwent various mutations with respect to its forms and publics. When Stéphane Mallarmé wrote that ‘everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book’, today it seems that everything, from the Bible to the most iconic literary masterpiece, ends up in a comic.
Ever since comics began to flourish, visual artists have appropriated and diverted various aspects of the genre. Among these artists are Vladimir Mayakovsky, Ad Reinhardt and Pablo Picasso with his Sueño y mentira de Franco [Dream and Lie of Franco] in 1937.
Beginning in the late 1960s, however, visual artists have occasionally revisited the by then popular comic by relying mainly on its formal elements. By way of endless declinations, they deconstruct the traditional comic to its essence and develop a new, mostly non-fictional story.
Most of these artists borrow original comics or fragments thereof, for their recreations. Christian Marclay selects details of comics to compose To Be Continued (2016), a graphic score for various instruments. He arranges singular images and a full page of onomatopoetic bangs and cracks, snaps and wongs or bongs.
Some artists focus exclusively on the most striking aspect of comics: the speech balloon; among them are Ben Vautier, Emmet Williams, Adrian Piper and Raúl Marroquín. Mirtha Dermisache also uses the comic-page structure for her pamphlet Fragmento de Historieta [Comic Fragment, 1974] in which she introduces her typical non-semantic writings in the frames.
Sometimes fictional figures such as Superman, Batman, Spiderman and Catwoman find new existences in the art world. Claes Oldenburg's Mickey Mouse Museum is the most spectacular metamorphosis; in this exhibition it is evoked by the multiple object Geometric Mouse (1971).
Comics Revisited reveals unexpected encounters between comic and other artistic languages, a productive dialogue in which narrations and abstractions, strips and panels, plane colours and speech balloons, heroes and legends come to new senses and possibilities.
Biblioteca y Centro de Documentación
25 June 2021 – 2 May 2022
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