February 7, 2012
"Herblock Looks at 1962" Exhibition Opens March 20
John F. Kennedy in 1962, the second year of his U.S. presidency, attempted to implement new policies that met with partisan opposition: assisting the unemployed, passing a jobs bill and creating Medicare. Abroad, he increased military presence in Vietnam and faced the Soviet Union in a nuclear showdown known as the "Cuban Missile Crisis."
These issues provided rich material for Washington Post editorial cartoonist Herbert L. Block—better known as "Herblock." By 1962, Herblock, who could artfully and effectively wield his pen, had won two Pulitzer Prizes.
His drawings will be on view in the exhibition "Herblock Looks at 1962: Fifty Years Ago Today in Editorial Cartoons," opening March 20 at the Library of Congress in the Graphic Arts Galleries on the ground floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C.
The exhibition, which runs through Sept. 5, 2012, is free and open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. It will be held in the Herblock Gallery, part of the Graphic Arts Galleries, which celebrates the work of Herblock with an ongoing display of 10 original drawings. The display changes every six months.
In 1945, Herblock developed his character "Mr. Atom" to personify the threat of nuclear annihilation that was ever-present during the Cold War (1945-1990). In 1962, Herblock used Mr. Atom repeatedly, when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev challenged Kennedy. The confrontation played out over the placement of nuclear missiles in Cuba and Turkey. At the same time, disarmament talks in Geneva, Switzerland, did not go well and the "Doomsday Clock" ticked closer to midnight, signaling the increased likelihood of nuclear war.
Ten cartoons will be on view, including "Tick—Tock—Tick," "Once More unto the Brink, Once More," "I May Still Have to Rely on Reckless Inaction" and "Hello—ORwell 1984?"
Herblock was a four-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. He spent more than 55 years at the Washington Post, taking on political corruption wherever he saw it and championing the rights of "the little guy."
The Herb Block Foundation donated a collection of more than 14,000 original cartoon drawings and 50,000 rough sketches, as well as manuscripts, to the Library of Congress in 2002, and has generously continued to provide funds to support ongoing programming.
The Library has been collecting original cartoon art for more than 140 years. It is a major center for cartoon research with holdings of more than 100,000 original cartoon drawings and prints. These works, housed in the Prints and Photographs Division, span five centuries and range from 17th-century Dutch political prints to 21st-century contemporary comic strips.
The Prints and Photographs Division holds the largest-known collection of American political prints, the finest assemblage of British satirical prints outside Great Britain and holdings of original drawings by generations of America's best cartoonists and illustrators that are unequaled in breadth and depth. Extensive runs of rare satirical and comic journals from Europe and the United States represent another distinguishing facet. The Library acquired these materials through a variety of sources including artists' gifts, donations by private collectors, selective purchases and copyright registration.
For sample images from "Herblock Looks at 1962," contact Donna Urschel at (202) 707-1639.
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