Edward Koren: The Capricious Line

June 14 - September 2, 2011
East Gallery

A longtime resident of Vermont, Edward Koren is best known for his cartoons and covers for The New Yorker magazine. Edward Koren: The Capricious Line explores the full range of the art he has produced during the past five decades: original drawings for cartoons and illustrated books as well as prints and independent drawings, many of which have never been exhibited before.

A primary focus of the exhibition is Koren's drawings for cartoons, which highlight his role as an observer and wry critic of contemporary society. The artist has defined his process of engagement: "Clichés or ritual acts that annoy or amuse me or intrigue me are points of entry that allow me to construct small dramas, frozen in time and space, that people will laugh at (because they might have recognized themselves), and that I do laugh at (because I have recognized myself)."

The exhibition also examines Koren's continuing experimentation with ideas and forms through a variety of finished drawings, many surprisingly large. Some of those ideas and forms include figures that emerged from the populist commedia dell'arte theater; fanciful beasts that might occupy a diorama in the American Museum of Natural History; and cyclists pedaling through cities and countryside. Collectively, the work in this exhibition documents the inventive play of Koren's imagination through the short scratchy lines of his pen and pencil. His work brings us into a realm of fantasy that is based firmly in reality, such contradictions being one source of its humor.

This exhibition was curated by Diana Fane, Curator Emerita of the Arts of the Americas at the Brooklyn Museum, and David Rosand, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History at Columbia University. This exhibition was organized by the Miriam and Ira O. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University.