Melbourne’s Jewish Museum comic book art exhibition from Paris

March 31, 2009 by J-Wire Staff
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Superheroes & Schlemiels   –   Jews & Comic Art

An exhibition created by the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme (Paris)
In cooperation with the Joods Historisch Museum (Amsterdam)

3 May 2009 – 30 August 2009  click here to see examples of the works

The story of comics is inextricably connected to its Jewish creators. This upcoming exhibition offers the visitor a behind the scenes insight into the history and genius of comic artists who, across the years, have captured the imaginations of children and adults alike.

In 1938 Siegel and Shuster launched the iconic superhero Superman, their response to the catastrophe of that time – Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, a world heading into war and the Great Depression.

The launch on 3 May 2009 of Superheroes and Schlemiels: Jews and Comic Art, an exhibition created by the Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme (Paris), licensed exclusively for exhibit to the Jewish Museum of Australia, takes a close look at the creators of the comic genre that still fires our imagination.

Superheroes & Schlemiels features reproduction and original works by: Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel (Superman), Jack Kirby and Stan Lee (Fantastic Four and X-Men), Will Eisner (The Spirit and A Contract With God), Harvey Kurtzman (MAD) and Art Spiegelman (Maus).

Also included are original never before seen works by local Australian Jewish comic artists: Nicki Greenberg, Bernard Caleo, Andrew Weldon, David Blumenstein and John Kron.

The exhibition traces comic-strip figures from 1910 to the present day. The first comic strips appeared in Yiddish and English-language newspapers. They make clear the ordeals faced by Jewish immigrants in their attempts to integrate within American society.

In the following period, around 1940, we see the emergence of the phenomenon of the American superhero in comic strips. The integration of Jews was by now well under way and various comic-strip writers focussed on the creation of superheroes with a national character.

“An important part of the exhibition is devoted to the more recent work of Will Eisner,” claims Jewish Museum temporary exhibitions curator Jess Rynderman. “With A Contract with God, Eisner was the first artist to translate his memories of Jewish history into a graphic novel. He was concerned primarily with the culture and way of life of Jewish immigrants in American society.”

The Holocaust plays an important role in the work of those Jewish comic-strip authors who became well known after Will Eisner. Maus by Art Spiegelman is now a model for graphic novels dealing with this subject matter.

So come and re-live the era of comics, of action, of fantasy. Enter another world.

A fictional character of unprecedented physical prowess dedicated to acts of bravery in the public interest.

Schlemiel: Yiddish, pronunciation: shla-meel
Habitual bungler; a dolt, clumsy person.


One Response to “Melbourne’s Jewish Museum comic book art exhibition from Paris”
  1. Val Maudson says:

    Please let me know when the comic art exhibition from Paris will be in Sydney. Saw interview on TV about it. The illustrators have fascinated me since childhood.(They’re my heroes too). Would like to see storyboard artists’ work mentioned too. So pleased it’s now recognised as an art form.
    Val M

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