Why call this exhibition Beyond the Cape!? Compared to so many other exhibitions worldwide about comic books, this original and unconventional take soars well beyond just superheroes. Beyond the Cape! Comics and Contemporary Art shows how graphic novels and comic books influence some of the most currently sought-after contemporary artists. The artworks in this pioneering show took viewers on a deeper dive into adult realms, tackling some of today’s thorniest issues: divisiveness, racial prejudice, feminism, planetary climate Armageddon, and LGBTQ rights.
Prominent art-world superstars such as Kumasi J. Barnett, George Condo, Renee Cox, Liz Craft, Kota Ezawa, Eric Fertman, Chitra Ganesh, Mark Thomas Gibson, Trenton Doyle Hancock, Christian Marclay, Kerry James Marshall, Takashi Murakami, Elizabeth Murray, Yoshitomo Nara, Joyce Pensato, Raymond Pettibon, Peter Saul, Kenny Scharf, William T. Wiley, and Michael Zansky are grouped for the first time in this new way, markedly different from other shows about comics Some of the most acclaimed underground comic book artists are also front-and-center, including R. Crumb, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Mimi Pond, and the Hairy Who artists Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, and Karl Wirsum, among others.
Beyond the Cape! was the headline show for the museum’s 2019 season, featuring video, photography, sculpture, prints, drawings, and tapestries. Visitors had the opportunity to view rare comics and contemporary animations coupled with remarkable historic cartoons from the early 1900s. This exhibition was curated by Kathleen Goncharov, who recruited as her ‘muse’ Calvin Reid, the Senior News Editor at Publishers Weekly and a leading expert in comics. Reid was one of the first critics to recognize comics as a literary form for adults and organized an extensive reading room where the public could comfortably lounge and read graphic novels and comics (some from his private library).