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Show Features Luminaries of the Craft and Their Insightful Takes on Boom and Bust
Lee Lorenz, Hey, why don’t we just say we have ninety-one per cent full employment? Brush and gray wash, with white gouache, Published 1 March 1976, Melvin R. Seiden Collection, The Morgan Library & Museum, Photography by Joseph Zehavi, 2008. © The New Yorker Collection 1976 Lee Lorenz from All Rights Reserved.

NEW YORK.- Celebrating the art of the cartoonist, On the Money: Cartoons for The New Yorker From the Melvin R. Seiden Collection features approximately seventy original drawings by some of The New Yorker’s most talented and beloved artists who have tackled the theme of money and the many ways in which it defines us. Included in the show are drawings by such luminaries as Charles Barsotti, George Booth, Dana Fradon, Lee Lorenz, William Hamilton, and J. B. Handelsman. The exhibition is on view only at the Morgan through May 24, 2009.

The works are drawn entirely from the collection of Melvin R. Seiden, a longtime supporter of the Morgan, who has assembled one of the largest and most representative private selections of this art form which spans the history of The New Yorker. The Seiden collection of New Yorker cartoons, numbering nearly 1,500 sheets, complements the Morgan’s holdings in the history of satire and humor, which range from the Renaissance to the twentieth century. Following the great cartoonists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries—including James Gillray, H. K. Browne a.k.a. Phiz, and Honoré Daumier, in whose works the Morgan’s collection is particularly rich—the artists represented in this exhibition continue the thread of chronicling contemporary attitudes.

Since 1925 The New Yorker magazine has served as the leading forum for American cartoonists to reflect and comment on the nation’s social and cultural environment. Their work provides amusement and constitutes a mirror of social conventions that remain relevant. The drawings in On the Money include a selection of works from the magazine’s early years as well as contributions from cartoonists working during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, when financial issues were among the dominant themes of many cartoons. Subjects such as politics, sex, inheritance, and real estate demonstrate the impact of money on individual lives, while the shared experience of recessions and booms provides inspiration for broader treatments of the theme. Finding humor in money and the economy has been a mainstay of New Yorker artists, and the cartoons continue to engage viewers.

The artistry of the works reveals the eloquent and efficient draftsmanship essential to a successful cartoon as well as the artists’ process of creating and revising an incisive, humorous vignette. The exhibition also delineates the critical role of the cartoon editor, whose work is essential to the reader’s enjoyment. A selection of cartoons that were improved by editorial recommendations is accompanied by equally amusing correspondence between editor and artist about achieving the perfect union between word and image. Also featured in the exhibition are photographic portraits by Anne Hall of many of the artists behind the cartoons.

“The Morgan is deeply grateful to Mel Seiden for allowing us to share with the public the original drawings for these wonderful cartoons,” said William M. Griswold, Director of The Morgan Library & Museum.

“New Yorker cartoonists have always been able to make us smile, even during some of our most turbulent economic, political, and social times. It is both enlightening and entertaining to see that fundamental themes such as money have been addressed by these visual satirists with keen insight and fresh perspective.”

Drawings by the following artists are included in the exhibition: Ed Arno; Charles Barsotti; George Booth; Roz Chast; Tom Cheney; Richard Cline; Frank Cotham; Leo Cullum; Whitney Darrow Jr. (1909–1999); Joseph Farris; Ed Fisher; Dana Fradon; William Hamilton; J. B. Handelsman (1922–2007); Helen E. Hokinson (1893–1949); Stan Hunt (1929–2006); Lee Lorenz; Michael Maslin; Joe Mirachi (1920–1991); W.B. Park; Donald Reilly (1933–2006); Mischa Richter (1910–2001); Carl Rose; Bernard Schoenbaum; Peter Steiner; Mick Stevens; James Stevenson; Mike Twohy; Robert Weber; Gluyas Williams (1888–1982); and Jack Ziegler.

On the Money: Cartoons for The New Yorker From the Melvin R. Seiden Collection is organized by Jennifer Tonkovich, Curator, Drawings and Prints, The Morgan Library & Museum. This exhibition is sponsored by CastleRock Asset Management. Additional support is generously provided by Liz and Rod Berens and Richard and Ronay Menschel. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

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