Sunday, January 29, 2012

Charles Burns: On the Darker Side of Strange

(Above) “Black Hole cover: Girl with Tail,” 1997, ink on paper, 21 x 14.5 inches
Be sure and click on the images for larger view.

(Above) “Black Hole back cover: Looking Down Hole,” 2002, ink on paper; 18 x 13 inches

(Above) “Black Hole back cover: Worm Creature,” 1997, ink on paper, 18 x 13 inches
Be sure and click on the images for larger view.

(Above) “SPX Illustration 1,” 2002, ink on paper, 16.5 x 15.5 inches

(Above) “Monica Lewinsky,” 1999, ink on paper, 15.5 x 14.5 inches

I FIRST MET CHARLES BURNS in 1982 or 1983 when he lived in St. Louis with his wife, the painter Susan Moore. He won’t remember me, I just ended up one evening at a party at their flat in University City. I was there following an art opening of Susan’s, but it was that night that I discovered something else, something amazing, something odd and wonderful... something on the darker side of strange. It was the black and white drawings of little baby-like figures drawn by her husband— Charles Burns. I became a fan—right then and there.

I asked Charles about purchasing one, and I don’t remember now the price, but it was cheap and still more money than I had. By the time I had saved the money, they had moved. Arrrgh-h-h-h!

I just finished Charles’ latest book, Black Hole. I loved it.

A few years ago, the Adam Baumgold Gallery presented an exhibition of drawings by Charles Burns. This was Charles Burns’ first New York solo exhibition and included fifty seminal drawings executed in the last 25 years. The work showcased Burns’ masterful pen and ink drawings for his award-winning comic books and other publications. Featured in the exhibition were covers and drawings for the serialized version of Charles Burns’ epic graphic novel “Black Hole,” as well as the drawings for the covers and pages of “Skin Deep,” “Big Baby,” and “El Borbah,” and a rare RAW era “Dog Boy” strip. The exhibition also had drawings and covers for The New Yorker, Esquire and numerous other magazines that included drawings of cult figures William S. Burroughs and Robert Crumb. Also included was the cover of “Permagel,” the new large scale book of Burns’ art.

Charles Burns’ drawings first became known in the legendary comics magazine “Raw” in the 1980s. His comic stories “Big Baby” and “Dog Boy” were serialized in alternative weekly papers throughout the United States. His drawings also appeared on the covers and in the pages of Rolling Stone, The New York Times, The Believer and many other publications, as well as on the album covers of Iggy Pop and others. His drawings were the subject of a solo exhibition “Charles Burns” at the Pennsylvania Academy of Arts Museum in 1999. His work was included in the exhibition “Disparities and Deformations: Our Grotesque” at the SITE Santa Fe Biennial in 2004 curated by Robert Storr. Burns contributed to the animated feature “Fear(s) of the Dark” which will be released in October by AFC. Charles Burns and his family lives and works in Philadelphia.

To see more of Charles Burns’ work just click here: Adam Baumgold Gallery. Some of the factual information above about the exhibition history of Burns came from the Adam Baumgold Gallery.

An AM repost from 1/30/09.


kate anderson said...

I remember Susan's work from the Timothy Burns Gallery...back then St. Louis saw the gorgeous portraits.

John Foster said...

You got that right! Her portraits were FAB!

domina said...
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Ytlyntys said...

Charles Burns is one of my favorite cartoonists. Black Hole is so awesome in every way!

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