Saginaw Art Museum Launches the World Premier of EDWARD KOREN

The Capricious Line • April 9 – June 27

Posted In: Arts & Entertainment, Artist Feature,   From Issue 808   By: Robert E Martin

09th April, 2015     0

Saginaw Art Museum director Stacey Gannon is obviously excited as she walks me around the major exhibition hall while the finishing touches are being put into place for the upcoming world premier of New Yorker cartoonist Edward Koren’s work entitled The Capricious Line.

“This is the first showing of this new traveling exhibition in the country and we are extremely excited to be showcasing it,” enthuses Gannon. “In trying to offer something different we saw he was putting this together and the timing was perfect. Originally he was not going to take this show on the road until the Fall season, but in talking with the agency representing his work we came to an agreement, so we are fortunate to be presenting the launch!”

Starting with the Exclusive Members’ Opening Reception on Thursday, April 9th and on display through June 27th, The Capricious Line celebrates the five-decade career of renowned cartoonist and long-standing contributor to The New Yorker magazine, Edward Koren.  Profiling approximately 50 original works on paper, many displayed for the first time, the exhibit was developed by the Wallach Art Gallery at Columbia University and encompasses an eclectic set of themes Koren tackles with his wry, astute eye for criticism.

With over 1,000 cartoons published in The New Yorker since 1962, Koren’s distinctive style and relatable characters deftly articulate the neurosis of contemporary society.  Touching on a diverse set of issues ranging from parenting to man’s relationship to nature, Koren creates succinct scenes that portray man’s awkward rapport to the environment. In contrast to other cartoonists’ aggressively political caricatures, Koren’s decidedly non-confrontational tone uses psychological acuteness and philosophical provocation to elicit laughs and stimulate thought.

The Capricious Line not only honors the accomplishments of this beloved cartoonist but also asserts his status as an artist. The full-scale, heavyweight ink drawings, which have up until now only been experienced as postcard sized images in the pages of the New Yorker highlight his mastery of drawing.

Koren’s art is all about drawing and the imaginative worlds it can unveil and record. Through this impressive collection of works, Koren shares the sheer fun and joy of drawing with his audiences. These innovative illustrations demonstrate the psychological, philosophical, and comical talents of Koren’s pen.


About the Artist • Koren Upon the Artistry of Reflection

Born in New York City, Koren attended the Horace Mann School and Columbia University. He did graduate work in etching and engraving with S.W. Hayter at Atelier 17 in Paris, and received an M.F.A. degree from Pratt Institute. Koren pursued his love of cartooning while on the faculty of Brown University for many years.

Edward Koren received a Doctor of Humane Letters Degree from Union College, and was a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow. In 2003 he was appointed Distinguished Visitor at The American Academy in Berlin, Germany. In 2007 he received The Vermont Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. For over 24 years, he has actively participated in the Brookfield, VT Volunteer Fire Department. He presently lives in Vermont with his family.

Koren has long been associated with the The New Yorker magazine, where he has published over 1,000 cartoons, as well as numerous covers and illustrations. David Remnick, The New Yorker’s editor, has this to say about Koren’s work: “The great imaginative artists, comic or seriocomic (what other kinds are there?), are great at least in part because they create a world: Baldwin’s Harlem, Faulkner’s hamlet, Chekhov’s dachas. Ed Koren not only created a world—the Koren worlds are both urban and Vermontian, but all Koren—he also created creatures, part human, part fantastical, to represent and give voice to all of our anxieties, joys, and craziness. Long live Ed Koren, his world and his creatures!”

When asked about his work, Koren offers both a cogent and detailed reflection, much like the visual work he creates.  “In my cartoon drawings, I like getting things right,” he explains.  “In drawings of stuff – objects, machines, structures, garb, all the things of the physical world – I try to get the details as correct as I can without dealing a death blow to a lively hand and dashing pen.”

“I’ve taken as example the great New Yorker artist George Price, and his accurate as well as stylistically expressive and goofy rendering of loony objects, chaotic interiors, and architectural oddities. Of a wonderfully comic drawing of a plumber working in a flooded basement, Price maintained that no working plumber would find any problem with the fittings. As both an engineer and, later, a dentist, my father prided himself on his craftsmanship and attention to detail, and appreciated how the physical world was constructed and held together. These admirations he passed on to me.”

“What captures my attention is all the human theater around me. I can never quite believe my luck in stumbling upon riveting mini-dramas taking place within earshot (and eyeshot), a comedy of manners that seems inexhaustible. And to be always undercover makes my practice of deep noticing more delicious. I can take in all the details as long as I appear inattentive – false moustache and dark glasses in place. All kinds of wonderful moments of comedy happen right under my nose. My low expectations are never disappointed, or, as Lily Tomlin has observed, “No matter how cynical I get, I can never keep up.”

Koren has also contributed to many other publications, including The New York Times, Newsweek, Time, G.Q., Esquire, Sports Illustrated, Vogue, Fortune, Vanity Fair, The Nation and The Boston Globe. His illustrated books include “How to Eat Like a Child,” “Teenage Romance” and “Do I Have to Say Hello” (all by Delia Ephron), “A Dog’s Life” by Peter Mayle, “Pet Peeves” by George Plimpton, and “The New Legal Seafoods Cookbook” by Roger Berkowitz and Jane Doerfer. “Thelonius Monster’s Sky-High Fly Pie” was published in 2006, “Oops” by Alan Katz in 2008, and “How to Clean Your Room” in 2010.


Additional Workshops Scheduled

According to Saginaw Art Museum curator Alyssa DePlonty, to coincide with the Koren Exhibition the museum will also be conducting a Cartooning Workshop with Jeff Phillips from Northwood University on May 16th from 1:00 – 3:00 PM. “This workshop will be for families and individuals and utilizing flip charts and simple styles,” she explains.  Additionally, the Museum is working at adding possibly one other workshop into the fold, along with other special features surrounding this exhibition.


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