Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Left photo: David Graham, Center photo: Nathan Benn

Philadelphia, PA

(215) 972-7600


Charles Burns


"Charles Burns" opens October 8 and runs through December 5, 1999 at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. This Morris Gallery exhibition -- the artist's first regional showing in five years and his first-ever museum effort -- will include over fifty drawings, prints, posters, books, and objects, including a remarkable "cabinet of curiosities" from the artist's personal collection.

Charles Burns (b. 1955), the Philadelphia-based graphic artist internationally known for his illustrations, comics, and books, is a graduate of The Evergreen State College (B.F.A., 1977) and the University of California, Davis (M.F.A., 1979). In 1993 he received a Pew Fellowship in the Arts.

Burns's work is characterized by a hard-edged, high-contrast graphic style and apocalyptic subject matter. Dark, funny, and disturbing, his gothic imagery and texts are emblematic of our millennial age. With sources ranging from classic children's books to the popular culture of his youth, this multi talented artist captures the daily perversities and transgressions wrought by the contemporary psyche.

One of the leading figures of the current "comix" movement, an avant-garde art form associated with counter-cultural talents R. Crumb and Art Spiegelman, among others, Burns was an early and regular contributor to RAW, the critically acclaimed magazine co-founded and edited by Spiegelman. Burns' provocative work also has appeared in publications such as Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Magazine. His books include Big Baby: Curse of the Molemen, Skin Deep, Blood Club, and the ongoing Black Hole series. In addition, the artist has worked in the theater and cable television. In 1991, Burns served as concept and set designer for the Mark Morris Dance Company's production of The Hard Nut, a contemporary ballet based on Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Suite. One year later, a live-action version of one of his comic-book characters, "Dog Boy," was serialized on MTV's Liquid Television. (left above: Hard Boiled Detective Stories, 1983, pen and ink drawing, Collection of the Artist; right above: Skin Deep, 1992, Book Cover, Collection of the Artist)

Organized by Chief Curator Sylvia Yount, this exhibition represents a mini-retrospective of the work of Charles Burns, who will give a gallery talk at the Academy on Wednesday, October 13 at 12:15 p.m. A special $3 rate for this program includes Museum admission.

Since 1978, the Morris Gallery program has featured a diverse array of contemporary artwork as part of the Museum's ongoing commitment to emerging and established artists with ties to the Philadelphia region.

Read more about the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Resource Library Magazine.

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This page was originally published in 1999 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.

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