“Under the Influence: The Comics”CUNY Lehman’s art exhibit displays comic-inspired artworks
Arts and Entertainment Editor Hosted at the Lehman College Art Gallery in the Bronx, “Under the Influence: The Comics” is an exhibit that presents the wide-breadth of comic book influences within art. The director of the Lehman Gallery, Susan Hoeltzel, curated the exhibit with Yuneikys Villalonga, her curatorial assistant.
When visitors walk into the room, their attention is immediately captured by a large, full-body portrait of Superman. The piece was made by pulp artist H.J. Ward in 1940, and was the first depiction of Superman in portrait. Apart from this, however, “Under the Influence: The Comics” focuses less on the cape-adorned heroes everyone knows about, and shines a light instead on the diverse potential for expression within comic book art.
William T. Wiley’s work, “I Visit Bob,” uses a comic book box to frame a fairly meta view of his friend’s comic studio. The box frame is layered with rough sketches and abstract art. A piece by Red Grooms, “Mike and Chuck,” captures a scene that occurred three years ago, where a groundhog bit Mayor Bloomberg’s finger. The figures literally pop out of the canvas in an old, pulpy style, and the piece provides sly commentary on today’s media environment where everything is so easily documented and exposed to the world.
Other works deal more loosely with comic book styles, but still hold onto the exhibit’s underlying theme on pop culture that is so closely related to comics. Tony the Tiger, the “Frosted Flakes” cartoon figure, is depicted by Mark Dean Veca in a wormy style that gives Tony a gross, shriveled effect. Dan Hernandez’s “Wall Fragment with Mobile Play Station” features the classic two-dimensional “Donkey Kong” surface, but it’s set in a grim tank filled with tiny soldiers.
With a diverse set of artworks, “Under the Influence: The Comics” lends credence to comic book art as a legitimate, explorative art style. The exhibit is free to the public, and will be on display until May 12.