"What could be more interesting in life than exploring this inner realm of the mind?"
- R. Crumb
R. Crumb (b. 1943) is the undisputed godfather of underground comics, whose genre defining comic strips of the 60s and 70s ushered in a new age of self-expression in the medium and redefined comics as a countercultural art form. Expanding on the rich history of the use of caricature to examine specific times in politics and society by artists such as Thomas Nast, James Gillray and William Hogarth, Crumb mines every aspect of his personal life to critique modern American society and the myth of the American Dream. Utilizing pen and ink in a crosshatching style born of fascination with 19th century graphic drawing and engraving, Crumb sheds light on the absurdity of social conventions, political disillusionment, racial stereotypes, and his own sexual fantasies and fetishes.
Crumb's life has been dedicated to a relentless self-examination, including his biases, his hatred, his love, his kinks. In doing so, he is not condoning them, but presenting them as a reflection of his environment, his upbringing, and what he sees as the rotten core of America. He belongs to a tradition of artists who synthesize the world through drawing, from Annibale Caracci and Pieter Brueghel to Carroll Dunham, Peter Saul, Mike Kelly and Nicole Eisenman. A persistent chronicler, Crumb spent decades drawing and writing in journals, no thought, no matter how crude, left unexposed. This unabashed self-expression flowed into his published comics, pushing the edge and testing the limits of the medium.
Born in 1943 in Philadelphia, Crumb moved to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco during the height of the hippie movement in 1967, before settling in the South of France in 1991 where he has resided since. Crumb has been the subject of solo exhibitions at institutions such as Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators, New York; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; Frye Art Museum, Seattle; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston; and the Grand Central Art Center, Santa Ana, California. Terry Zwigoff’s documentary Crumb was named the best film of 1994 by the late critic Gene Siskel and won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 1995.
Work by the artist is represented in major museum collections worldwide, including the Brooklyn Museum, New York; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Los Angeles; Musée régional d'art contemporain Occitanie, Sérignan, France; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York, among others.
Two Palms is pleased to premier our first collaboration with R. Crumb, a group of 5 etchings, at Art Basel in June of 2023.