Heater and Tub-Pentimenti, 1997John Clem ClarkeAcrylic paintingPurchase: Museum of Art Endowment Fund In the 1940s and 50s, the popular culture of the United States was saturated with images of cartoons. The baby boom inspired the use of cartoons in advertising; lure in the kids, and the parents will spend more money. But whether for advertising or entertainment, cartoons were the order of the day, and the visual language through which they communicated was seen on a massive scale.
Accessibility is one aspect of cartoons that makes them excellent inspirations for visual art. A vast majority of the population has seen a cartoon on television, in a movie, or as part of a comic strip or graphic novel. This widespread familiarity with the construct of cartoons allows people of all ages and sensibilities to enjoy and understand the message contained therein.
Presently on view at the Ball State University Museum of Art, Art in the ‘Toon Age, an international exhibition of forty-two contemporary works of art. Featured artists include Roger Brown, John Clem Clarke, Takashi Murakami, Chicago Imagists Jim Nutt and Karl Wirsum, and many more. These artists grew up seeing cartoons used frequently in the world around them. In many cases the only thing stronger than the sweeping lines and colors of these works is the pure sense of whimsy and innocence. Evident in so many works is a springing line and vivid characterization. These cheerful expressions are typically reserved for very positive subjects and objects which require little interpretation; however it becomes evident that the meaning of many such inspired pieces is much deeper. Selected pieces from the exhibition belie their mild-mannered appearance by divulging themes of genocide, despair, and aggression upon closer inspection. In this way cartoons have come of age and been adapted to speak of more aspects of human life than ever before.
Exhibition Date: August 19, 2005 - October 30, 2005
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