Stockbridge, MA, January 25, 2018 —The Norman Rockwell Museum presents The Art and Wit of Rube Goldberg, an exhibition exploring the humorous illustrations of the visionary artist, who has become famous for the creative inventions bearing his name. On view at the Museum from March 2 through June 9, 2019, the exhibition will offer a revealing look at Goldberg’s creativity through original comic strips from the 1930s, where the artist created his complicated machines, as well as later political cartoons and instructional materials from the Famous Artists School, which are now part of the permanent collection of Norman Rockwell Museum.
“Rube Goldberg’s comic strips had such a tremendous influence on popular culture, both then and now,” notes Norman Rockwell Museum Curator of Exhibitions Jesse Kowalski, who organized the exhibition. “We are thrilled to be able to share our Museum’s rarely-seen collection of artwork from one of the 20th century’s greatest cartoonists.”
Highlights from the exhibition include a series of World War II-themed artworks, created by Goldberg for use with his Famous Artists School instruction in cartooning. Ink and charcoal drawings such as The Boot, featuring a map outline of Italy giving a swift kick to Soviet revolutionary Joseph Stalin; and Style Note from Russia, depicting an overcoat-wearing bear representing Russia, with pockets devoted to Poland, Czechoslovakia, and other acquired territories. These works demonstrate Goldberg’s gift for making witty connections through the use of symbolic representations. Other cartoons on display from the Famous Artists School Collection offer a step-by-step look at the artist’s process in creating political cartoons.
Also included in the exhibition are pencil, pen and ink drawings loaned from the collection of Williams College Museum of Art, which demonstrate Goldberg’s elaborative creativity. A sampling of the artist’s inventive ideas and gag cartoons created during the late 1940s include an “automatic dieting machine with goat attachment,” “a simple one-shift bouncer for free loaders,” and a “Revolvometer for looking at modernistic art.” Vintage video clips will also be on display in the exhibition, showing the inventive artist and his influence on everything from Tom and Jerry cartoons to the movie Back to the Future.
The Art and Wit of Rube Goldberg is generously sponsored by Keator Group, LLC.
Born in San Francisco in 1883, Reuben Garret Lucius Goldberg studied Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley and soon found work mapping sewers and water lines for the city of San Francisco. Shortly after starting his engineering career, Goldberg quit to become a sports cartoonist at the San Francisco Chronicle. In 1907 he moved to New York where he began drawing cartoons for the New York Evening Mail. Comic creations such as Boob McNutt, Foolish Questions, Mike and Ike (They Look Alike), I Never Thought of That, and The Inventions of Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts, which showcased the Rube Goldberg Machine, were syndicated across the country.
In the late 1930s, Goldberg added editorial cartoons to his repertoire, and focused on the events in Europe in the lead up to World War II. As the son of a Jewish immigrant, Goldberg understood early on the threat of Nazi Germany, and felt passionately about the world’s indifference to the events happening in Europe. During World War II, Adolf Hitler became Goldberg’s main point of ridicule. Following the war, Goldberg continued to comment on world politics and in 1948 he won a Pulitzer Prize for a political cartoon titled Peace Today, which addressed the threat of nuclear war.
Following the end of World War II, the artist became a founding member and the first President of The Cartoonists Society, and later a teacher of the Famous Artists School. Goldberg began offering instruction on editorial cartoons in the school’s Cartoon Course.
For more information about the exhibition and programs, visit www.nrm.org.
About Norman Rockwell Museum
Norman Rockwell Museum is dedicated to education and art appreciation inspired by the legacy of Norman Rockwell. The Museum holds the world’s largest and most significant collection of art and archival materials relating to Rockwell’s life and work, while also preserving, interpreting, and exhibiting a growing collection of art by other American illustrators throughout history. The Museum engages diverse audiences through onsite and traveling exhibitions, as well as publications, arts and humanities programs, and comprehensive online resources.
The Museum’s dedication to a deepened understanding of the art of illustration has led to the formation of the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies. The first of its kind in the nation, this research institute supports sustained scholarship and establishes the Museum’s leadership in the vanguard of preservation and interpretation relating to this important aspect of American visual culture.
Located on 36 park-like acres in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, Rockwell’s hometown for the last 25 years of his life, the Museum is open seven days a week, year-round; closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Museum hours from May through October are: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, open until 7 p.m. on Thursdays during the month of August; from November through April: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Rockwell’s studio is open May through October, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Museum admission is $20, $18 for seniors, $17 for military veterans, $10 for students, and free for children 18 and under.
Norman Rockwell Museum welcomes active U.S. military members with free admission throughout the year. Additionally, we are a Blue Star museum and offer active U.S. military personnel and their immediate family, complimentary admission from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Visit the Museum online at www.nrm.org.