David Zwirner opens an exhibition of works by R. Crumb, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, and Sophie Crumb

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David Zwirner opens an exhibition of works by R. Crumb, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, and Sophie Crumb
Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Self Portrait (Cancer-free Survivor), 2021 © Aline Kominsky-Crumb, 2022. Courtesy the artist, Paul Morris, and David Zwirner.

PARIS.- David Zwirner is presenting an exhibition of works by R. Crumb, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, and Sophie Crumb, on view at the gallery’s Paris location. This is the first major joint presentation of husband and wife Crumb and Kominsky-Crumb and their daughter, Sophie Crumb—who have all lived in France for the past thirty years—since the 2007 exhibition La Famille Crumb at Le Musée de Sérignan (now Musée régional d’art contemporain Occitanie), France.

By the time they met in 1971, Aline Kominsky-Crumb and R. Crumb had each already established themselves at the forefront of the underground comics scene: Kominsky-Crumb with her autobiographical comics that appeared in the influential all-female anthology Wimmen’s Comix, and Crumb with his genre-defining comic strips of the 1960s and early 1970s like Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural, and Keep on Truckin’. As pioneering graphic artists, the two have maintained their own distinctive practices while also frequently collaborating on projects such as Aline and Bob’s Dirty Laundry Comics (1974) and, more recently, Bad Diet & Bad Hair Destroy Human Civilization (2020). Like her parents, Sophie Crumb, who was born in 1981, is recognized for her singular graphic style that trenchantly reflects on her life, her family, and French and American society and culture, all filtered through her own unique generational lens.

Though Kominsky-Crumb and Crumb are icons of American counterculture, since 1991 the family has lived in and around the small town of Sauve, in the south of France. Their move was precipitated by their increasing distaste for the reactionary politics and suburban yuppie culture of the United States in the 1980s. Since their arrival, and in large part due to their presence, the quaint town has become something of a refuge for expats, artists, and other free spirits. As a young adult, Sophie spent time in New York and Paris, but she eventually returned to southern France, and today lives near Sauve with her own family.

This exhibition features both new and past individual and collaborative works by this prodigious family of artists. Focusing on works made since their move to France, it offers viewers a rare opportunity to see their stylistic and conceptual links as well as the ways in which all three have forged their own artistic paths.

Though often humorous, many of the collaborative works probe the nature of the artists’ relationships with each other, tackling serious topics such as motherhood, abortion, and sex, while others address more mundane concerns like constipation. One collaboration by all three artists from 1992—when Sophie was only eleven years old—humorously addresses the dynamics prompting the family’s departure for France. In one panel, Crumb says, “I never know what to tell people when they ask me why we’re moving to France,” to which Kominsky-Crumb responds a few panels later, “Lousy school, too much crime, schluburban sprawl, media overload … flags … baseball caps … self-help groups, shit … I dunno.… No real reason!” Another more recent collaboration, Crumb Family Covid Exposé (2021), reflects on how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the family’s behaviors and actions and their differing views and responses to it.

Among the individual works done by the artists are several recent and past portraits and self-portraits by Kominsky-Crumb—some raucously caricaturish and others more formalistic and probing—which show the range of the artist’s approach to drawing herself and her subjects. Likewise, Sophie Crumb’s portraits and illustrations vary from surreal, naturalistic drawings that highlight her skills as a draftsman—her drawings often utilize much more shading and chiaroscuro than her parents’ work, lending them a noirish and theatrical quality—to more exaggerated and comical portrayals. Several drawings from some of R. Crumb’s celebrated series will be on view such as Mr. Natural and Kafka for Beginners, as well as new works in which the artist continues to turn a mirror on contemporary social and political conditions, such as Fear the Invisible (2021), a drawing depicting anthropomorphized COVID viruses grinning maniacally.

On the occasion of the exhibition, the Crumbs will also publish a new zine featuring new works from the show.

Born in 1981 in Woodland, California, Sophie Crumb began drawing and making cartoons and illustrations at the age of two. As a young girl, Crumb was an avid reader of comics and contributed some of her childhood illustrations to her parents’ well-known series Weirdo and Dirty Laundry Comics. In 2002, Fantagraphics Books published Belly Button Comix, Crumb’s autobiographical comic detailing living in Paris in her early twenties. Sophie Crumb: Evolution of a Crazy Artist, a publication featuring over three hundred of her drawings, which tracks her development as an artist from her youth through her late twenties, was published in 2010. She has had solo exhibitions at DCKT Contemporary, New York (2014, with Kominsky-Crumb; 2010), and her work has been featured in group exhibitions at the Musée régional d’art contemporain Occitanie, Sérignan, France (2022), and BravinLee Programs, New York (2016).

Since 1971, Aline Kominsky-Crumb has been a pioneering figure in the world of comics. Born Aline Goldsmith in Long Island, New York, in 1948, Kominsky-Crumb earned her BFA from the University of Arizona, Tucson, in 1971. Kominsky-Crumb was one of the first contributors to the all-female anthology Wimmen’s Comix in 1971, founded the seminal comics series Twisted Sisters with Diane Noomin in 1976, and, during the 1980s, served as editor for the influential alternative comics anthology Weirdo, to which she also contributed throughout its run. In 2018, an expanded edition of the artist’s 1990 publication Love That Bunch, featuring cartoons, drawings, and illustrations from throughout her career, was published by Drawn & Quarterly.

Previous solo exhibitions of her work include those held at DCKT Contemporary, New York (2014, with Sophie Crumb); Art and Culture Center/Hollywood, Florida (2014); Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, New York (2012); and Adam Baumgold Gallery, New York (2007). Her work has been published in Artforum, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Time Out New York, and numerous other magazines.

Born in Philadelphia in 1943, R. Crumb has used the popular medium of the comic book to address the absurdity of social conventions, political disillusionment, irony, racial and gender stereotypes, and sexual fantasies and fetishes. In 2006, Crumb joined David Zwirner, where he has had four solo exhibitions, including the 2019 show Drawing for Print: Mind Fucks, Kulture Klashes, Pulp Fiction & Pulp Fact by the Illustrious R. Crumb curated by Robert Storr and presented at the New York gallery. Also in New York, in 2017, the gallery presented Aline Kominsky-Crumb & Robert Crumb: Drawn Together, a version of which was on view at the Cartoonmuseum Basel in 2016, the first comprehensive museum presentation of the artists’ joint work.

A retrospective of Crumb’s work was held in 2012 at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. In 2011, his work was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators, New York. A major solo show devoted to Crumb’s work was organized by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, in 2007, and traveled from 2008 to 2009 to the 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. Other one-person exhibitions include those organized by the Whitechapel Gallery, London, which traveled to the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (both 2005), and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne (2004). 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; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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