Sunday, June 9, 2024

"What, Me Worry? The Art and Humor of MAD Magazine" Exhibition

From the Norman Rockwell Museum.

Illustration by Richard Williams

The Norman Rockwell Museum will explore the art and satire of MAD magazine in the exhibit, What, Me Worry? The Art and Humor of MAD Magazine. 

Over 150 pieces of original art will be displayed, including paintings, drawings, cartoons, ephemera, artifacts, and other media. 

One gallery will be focused solely on the work of Mort Drucker, who spent more than five decades drawing caricatures and illustrations for MAD.

This exhibition explores the unforgettable art and satire of MAD, from its beginnings in 1952 as a popular humor comic book to its emergence as a beloved magazine that spoke truth to power and attracted generations of devoted readers through the decades. 

MAD’s influence and cultural impact will be explored in this landmark installation, which features iconic original illustrations and cartoons created by the magazine’s Usual Gang of Idiots—the many artists and writers who have been the publication’s mainstays for decades. 

These include Sergio Aragonés, David Berg, Paul Coker, Jack Davis, Dick DeBartolo, Mort Drucker, Will Elder, John Ficarra, Kelly Freas, Al Jaffee, Harvey Kurtzman, Don Martin, Nick Meglin, Norman Mingo, Antonio Prohías, Marie Severin, John Severin, Angelo Torres, Sam Viviano, Richard Williams, and Wally Wood. 

Illustration by Sam Viviano

The art of next generation visual humorists, including Emily Flake, Drew Friedman, Peter Kuper, Teresa Burns Parkhurst, C.F. Payne, Tom Richmond, and Dale Stephanos, will also be on view.

It is difficult to imagine a time when satirical, irreverent humor was not common across media, but in the 1950s, anti-establishment humor was not the cultural norm. 

An iconic illustrated humor magazine that has been surreptitiously enjoyed by millions for more than seventy years, MAD was the first to ironically and humorously poke holes in all aspects of American life—from movies, television, music, art, and advertising to superheroes, celebrity culture, and the political scene of the day. 

Special features like Spy vs. Spy, MAD Fold-Ins, MAD’s Maddest Artists, and MAD’s Marginals, which have been longtime favorites, continue to delight.

First published in 1952, MAD originally launched as an EC comic book series founded by editor Harvey Kurtzman and publisher William Gaines, with its inaugural issue titled Tales Calculated to Drive You Mad

In 1955, with MAD No. 24, the comic was reimagined as an illustrated magazine, releasing it from the censure of the Comics Code Authority. 

The publication’s now legendary parodies of Superduperman and Starchie, takeoffs on the classic DC superhero and Archie comics, respectively, launched MAD into the stratosphere. 

Between 1952 and 2018, five-hundred-fifty magazine issues were published, along with a multitude of special issues, paperbacks, and compilation projects.

The exhibition is co-curated by Steve Brodner and Stephanie Haboush Plunkett, with Sam Viviano as lead advisor.

What, Me Worry? The Art and Humor of MAD Magazine
June 8 - October 27, 2024
The Norman Rockwell Museum 
9 Glendale Road Route 183 
Stockbridge, Massachusetts. 


"The Daily Heller: MAD and the Usual Gang of Idiots" in Print

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