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February 28, 2008

Cartoons By Modernist Painter Ad Reinhardt Discussed at Library of Congress on March 18

During World War II, American abstract expressionist painter Ad Reinhardt made a series of little-known but striking cartoon collages of Adolf Hitler. Reinhardt’s overlooked cartoon work will be discussed by Swann Foundation Fellow Prudence Peiffer in a lecture at the Library of Congress on March 18.

Peiffer’s presentation, "How to Look at Ad Reinhardt’s World War II Cartoons in America," will begin at noon on Tuesday, March 18, in Dining Room A on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public; no reservations are required.

The illustrated talk is based on research conducted by Peiffer at the Library of Congress during her fellowship, which was awarded last year by the Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon. The lecture is sponsored by the foundation, which is managed by the Library, and the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division.

The cartoon collages by Reinhardt (1913-1967) were published during World War II in The New Masses journal and PM newspaper. By 1946, he had honed his collage technique in his "How to Look at Modern Art" cartoons.

In her talk, Peiffer will explore how Reinhardt mined the history of political cartoons to create his own unique strategy of radical aesthetics, and she will argue for a connection between his best-known abstract paintings from the 1950s and 1960s and his earlier cartoon work. She will draw upon examples of Reinhardt’s published cartoon creations and drawings by such cartoonists as Miguel Covarrubias (1904-1957), whose work influenced the younger artist.

In addition to being a Swann fellow at the Library of Congress, Peiffer is a pre-doctoral fellow at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. She is a doctoral candidate in 20th-century art history at Harvard University and is writing her dissertation titled "Routine Extremism: Ad Reinhardt and Modern Art." Peiffer completed a master’s degree in the history of art and architecture at Harvard and a bachelor’s in art history at Yale University. Her particular interest is in the intersections between abstraction and figuration in 20th-century art.

Peiffer’s presentation is part of the Swann Foundation’s continuing activities to support the study, interpretation, preservation and appreciation of original works of humorous and satiric art by graphic artists from around the world. The foundation’s advisory board is made up of scholars, collectors, cartoonists and Library of Congress staff members.

The Swann Foundation customarily awards one fellowship annually (with a stipend of $15,000) to assist scholarly research and writing projects in the field of caricature and cartoon. More information about the fellowship is available through the Swann Foundation’s Web site: www.loc.gov/rr/print/swann/ or by e-mailing swann@loc.gov.

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PR 08-042
02/28/08
ISSN 0731-3527

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