Showing posts with label Pat Oliphant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pat Oliphant. Show all posts

Monday, February 24, 2020

Bruce Guthrie on UVA's Oliphant exhibit

by Bruce Guthrie

I went down to Charlottesville this weekend to see the new Oliphant exhibit there.  While there, I met with Molly Schwartzburg who was co-curator of the exhibit that I had been sending emails to regarding photo policies and such.  We had a good chat!

This is the official exhibit description:

Oliphant: Unpacking the Archive
September 23, 2019 – May 30, 2020
Celebrating the recent acquisition of editorial cartoonist Patrick Oliphant’s voluminous archive

In 2018, Patrick and Susan Oliphant donated almost 7,000 drawings, watercolors, prints, sculptures, and sketchbooks to the UVA Library. Complementing the art is a wealth of archival material: correspondence, photographs, professional papers, scrapbooks, and recordings. This, the first exhibition to juxtapose the archive with Oliphant’s artwork, shows how and why Oliphant became the most widely syndicated, most influential political cartoonist in America, shaping the political consciousness of generations.

What happens when a great artist takes up the profession of political cartooning and deploys all the weapons in his considerable arsenal to send a message? Endowed with a skepticism of the status quo, a love of drawing, and little formal training, Oliphant began his career at eighteen as a copy boy in Adelaide, Australia. When he joined the Denver Post in 1964 he introduced a linear fluency and wit—a studied awareness of adversary traditions from Hogarth, Goya, and Daumier to David Low—as well as an expansive imagination and conceptual reach as yet unknown to American newspaper audiences.
Oliphant’s swift rise to prominence, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1967, was followed by five decades of sustained, uncompromising work. From Watergate to Bridgegate, from Duoshade to digital delivery, and from the ephemeral newspaper cartoon to the lasting medium of bronze, Oliphant’s work both embraces its immediate context and transcends the particulars of time, place, and medium to reify universal traits of human character.
Today is a moment of great change for political commentary and visual satire. As newspapers continue to fold or merge, and the number of staff editorial cartoonists drops from hundreds to dozens nationally, Oliphant’s archive will be essential for understanding the place of political cartoons in newsprint’s last decades of dominance, and inspiring paths forward in an era of turbulent uncertainty.
It's a wonderful exhibit, filled with bunches of his daily strips, his sculptures, etc. 

For me, the major disappointment was that most of the artwork were reproductions.  Apparently, the originals were hung for the first couple of months when it opened in September, but were then rotated out.  The signage was not changed to reflect this so I'm not entirely sure what was original and what wasn't.  That's not the way it's supposed to be in a research library.

But ignoring that, there is a lot to love about the exhibit:
  • The sketchbooks -- so many sketchbooks! -- are wonderful.  There's even one (clearly a reproduction) that you can pick up and look through.  Pat drew everything! 
  • There's a huge doodle picture on an easel that's just amazing.  Between classic drawings are phone numbers, addresses, and appointment reminders.
  • The sculptures -- two of which are downstairs -- are great.  The National Portrait Gallery has copies of most of them too, but they all went off display when the presidential gallery was reorganized.
  • There's a free poster and a fairly modest brochure.  Both feature a self-portrait that he did for San Diego Comic-Con back in 2009. That was the one that I sat next to his wife Susan during his talk while he drew obscene things on his writing tablet (Susan kept covering her eyes during the demo).
  • The history lesson about growing up in Australia and coming here on assignment were interesting.  I always wondered why he was here.
  • There was a display about Punk, the penguin character that visits most of his strips.  Punk has been around.... well, hell, almost forever.  It's his signature like Ralph Steadman's splatter.  And like at Steadman's Katzen exhibit, you'll find Punk on the walls in something like ten places throughout the building including on floor landings and in the elevator.  (Some Katzen folk got splatters added to their business cards.  I'm not sure that happened with Punk.)
They did a really nice job and it's well worth the trip.  Plus that library also has an interesting exhibit about the Declaration of Independence and offset printing. 

I of course did my normal photo obsessive thing -- so many photos! -- and they're up on

Monday, December 31, 2012

Daumier & Oliphant: Together again for 3 more weeks

Political Wits, 100 Years Apart: Daumier and Oliphant at the Phillips. Washington, DC: The Phillips Collection, September 6, 2012 - January 20, 2013.

            This slim one-room show has only nine pieces of art in it, split almost half and half between caricaturist Honore Daumier and political cartoonist Patrick Oliphant. The text for the show focuses on Oliphant’s Pulitzer Prize-winning career. The most striking piece of artwork is a lifesize painting of Gifford Phillips (1999) that Oliphant did in chalk and oil. Oliphant drew Phillips in charcoal and then outlined him in a muted orange. Other Oliphant pieces include “Homage to Daumier” (2000), a Richard Nixon caricature “I have Returned” (1984), his sculpture “Naked Nixon” (1985), and “Tweedledum and Tweedledee” a 2000 lithograph of failed Democratic presidential candidates. These were all given to the Collection by the Oliphants who formerly lived in Washington. The Daumier works are untranslated prints, including his famous image “Le Ventre Legislatif” (1834) which caricatured France’s politicians.

Why do this exhibit? The textual focus on Oliphant - with a large biographical note - and a corresponding lack of one on Daumier seems odd. Does it suggest that their audience would of course know Daumier and his work and accept it, but that such would not be the case for Oliphant? Although the exhibit title implies a co-equal relationship, the focus is definitely on Oliphant.

Chief Curator Eliza Rathbone returned the following response: We wanted to get out all our works by Oliphant because they haven't been presented before all together.  It is intended as a primarily Oliphant show but also one that shows how his work connects with the enduring history of the Phillips (specifically its work by Daumier which has been central to the museum since its inception).  It is election season with a greater than usual focus on politics.  Also it is really an installation rather than an exhibition and should only be presented as such.

            I cannot quibble with Dr. Rathbone’s rationale. For 3 more weeks, one can see artwork by two great caricaturists that normally would be hidden away in storage.  Longtime residents may also recall the Phillips was the site of a truly great Daumier show, the 2000 exhibit that Oliphant’s “Homage” was drawn for. Daumier’s oil on wood painting, “The Strong Man” (1865) which is a carnival scene with a barker presenting the strong man can also be seen in the permanent collection. Sometimes one must simply accept and enjoy an opportunity. It's like that ad for chocolate and peanut butter candy - "Two great tastes together."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Belgian cartoonist postcards (and a Caribean one)

Here's some more Secret History of Comics bits - postcards found at the State Dept. booksale last weekend.

I didn't recognize the artists behind these first 3 cards at all, but the style looked vaguely familiar - it's that Franco-Belgian look.

Mazel 22.010-50 Belgium postcard
Mazel artwork. #22.010-50 Belgian postcard.

Jean-Pol  22.010-58 Belgium postcard
Jean-Pol artwork. #22.010-58 Belgian postcard.

Jean-Pol  22.010-53 Belgium postcard
Jean-Pol artwork. # 22.010-53 Belgian postcard/

Now I want the rest of the set of course...

Kerschner Caribbean Classic Series card
Caribbean Classic Series postcard. Pam Kerschner artwork. She's a cartoonist on the Virgin Islands. See "Caribbean Living With a Sense of Humor," By Pam Kerschner.

And here's the great Pat Oliphant, working for the man (or the US Postal Service)...
Stamps - Oliphant maximum card
"This maximum card was issued in connection with the U.S./ Australia commemorative stamp which was jointly issued in Washington, D.C. and Sydney, Australia, on January 26, 1988. The stamps was designed by Roland Harvey of Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia. The art shown on the reverse of this card was designed by the renowned syndicated cartoonist, Pat Oliphant.

No. 88-1

Monday, January 26, 2009

Politico on editorial cartoonists and Obama

Alan Gardener found this Politico story before I did - "Cartoonists draw blank on Obama" By DAVID MARK, Politico 1/26/09 - but I ask "where's Matt Wuerker, their own political cartoonist? Is he not having trouble drawing Obama so he got left out?"

Or perhaps this is a stringer's article.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

That darn Oliphant... and the Post too!

Bygod, the Post isn't coordinating its editorial page, its syndicated editorial cartoons and its news reporting! For details, see "Forty miles (and some fuel): Oliphant and Washington Post ignorantly smear GM and plug-in hybrids," by Joseph Romm (Guest Contributor), Grist 15 Dec 2008. Cartoons aren't meant to be funny apparently, but should be educational and truthful without exaggeration. We should call them something else maybe. Any suggestions?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Post ombudsman on Oliphant cartoon

Here's the Post ombudsman on an Oliphant cartoon about Palin, with a ho-hum sort of defense of free speech as it applies to cartoonists on the web, which after all, isn't really the newspaper, but if it had been the newspaper, well, then by god, we wouldn't have run the cartoon because it criticizes beliefs in god of 750 likely non-subscribers to the Post... aw, just read the thing - "The Power of Political Cartoons," By Deborah Howell, Washington Post Sunday, September 28, 2008; B06.

Dan Wasserman, the Boston Globe's editorial cartoonist had a better response in "Pentecostals peeved at Palin cartoon" basically arguing that if you mix your politics and religion, then perhaps other people won't bother to separate them either.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Post religious blog on Oliphant cartoon

Gabriel Salguero, Pastor and Executive Member, Latino Leadership Circle, takes Oliphant to task in "Stereotyping Palin and Pentecostalism," Newsweek / Washington Post On Faith blog (September 22 2008).

He says, "Certainly, Mr. Oliphant is free to have an opinion concerning "tongue-speaking." I understand the genre of political cartoons, but I just think this is applying an old and unnecessary stereotype. To imply or even hint that good Christians who speak in tongues are naive or not able to lead is truly a leap to judgment. This may not have been Mr. Oliphant's intent but it has been construed in this way by some who have viewed his cartoon post. Certainly, very few would dare argue that the personal prayer practices of other religious groups makes them ill-equipped to lead."

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Oliphant's Palin cartoon on Post website shakes teapot

Ken Gurley in his "Cartoonist Lampoons Palin's Pentecostal Faith," Houston Chronicle Houston Belief blog 9/15/2008, takes issue with a cartoon by Pat Oliphant that ran on the Post's website.

He wrote, Palin's Pentecostal faith is now being lampooned by Pat Oliphant, Washington Post cartoonist. Oliphant has been called by the New York Times Magazine the "most influential editorial cartoonist" now working.

Sadly, Oliphant is not a Washington Post cartoonist, but works for a syndicate.

Continuing his misrepresentation and misapprehensions, he concludes,

Speaking of the Danish cartoonist, the editor of that newspaper issued an apology for its extreme insensitivity to the Muslim faith. What about it Washington Post? Do you want to go down this slippery slope in the pick-and-choose mode of offending religions? Even your own ombudsman said this was beyond the pale. Why not pony up an apology?

Well, no, the Danish editor didn't apologize. In a Radio Free Europe interview from March 29, 2008, Fleming Rose said, And in fact, one of the leading Muslims who had tried to take me and my newspaper to court, and who had said at the time that this would never end until Flemming Rose apologized to 1.5 billion Muslims, this time came forward saying: "OK, we now know from the court decision that we live in a country where it is allowed to ridicule and defame our religion. We don't like it but we have to accept it."

In any event, one wonders why Ken Gurley would like his religion compared to one whose members, after months of inciting to be sure, rioted over cartoon depictions. Perhaps he'd like a story on Radio Free Europe about it.

And the Post, again, is not Oliphant's newspaper. What the ombudsman said was, "Readers were right to complain; I will deal with political cartooning in another column. Political cartoons and comics aren't selected at the way they are for The Post in print; they are automatically posted." I think Howell is wrong about the "right to complain" remark, but she says she'll address the issue of political cartoons in another article. The Post had... 350 complaints! Shocking! I wonder how many of them actually even buy the paper since the cartoon only ran online. I certainly didn't see it until people started complaining about it, so I appreciate the fact that they did and I could then enjoy the cartoon.

Christianity Today also blogged on the tempest "Readers say Washington Post cartoon lampooned their faith," by Sarah Pulliam.

Also, in That Darn Toles news, the Wall Street Journal's John Fund noted on his blog "A better riposte might have been to note that Mr. Obama seemed to be channeling a hard-left newspaper cartoonist named Tom Toles." Toles was not actually identified, but he is the Washington Post's cartoonist.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Oliphant cartoon draws complaints for Post's website

The cartoon in question.

The Post's readers have been complaining about an online Oliphant cartoon - in "Campaign, and Complaints, Heat Up," By Deborah Howell, Washington Post Sunday, September 14, 2008; Page B06, she says, Speaking of overdoing it, a political cartoon by Pat Oliphant that appeared on Wednesday prompted complaints from about 350 readers who said he lampooned their faith. The cartoon showed Palin speaking in tongues, an aspect of worship in some Pentecostal churches, and then God telling St. Peter that he didn't understand what she was saying -- "All I can hear is some dam' right-wing politician spouting gibberish." Readers were right to complain; I will deal with political cartooning in another column. Political cartoons and comics aren't selected at the way they are for The Post in print; they are automatically posted.

Like my recent post on Zapiro, I'd have to say "what issue?"

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Feiffer calls Toles "brilliant"

Brian Heater interviewed Jules Feiffer for his Daily Cross Hatch and has put it up in two parts, the first of which is here. In part 2, Feiffer said, "Though there are still some brilliant political cartoonists. There’s my friend Tony Auth, for The Philadelphia Inquirer and Tom Toles in The Washington Post and Pat Oliphant in syndication. These guys are extraordinary. They’re brilliant."

Feiffer is one of the great political cartoonists of the twentieth century, although most wouldn't categorize him that way.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Herblock and Oliphant cited by Clay Bennet as influences

See "The Cartoonist’s Cartoonists: Clay Bennett," By Alan Gardner, in the Daily Cartoonist June 17, 2008. Bennett's got an excellent list with some real surprises like Ron Cobb and Quino.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Post reviews trifecta of political cartoonists exhibits

The Berryman, Herblock and Oliphant shows got noticed in today's Weekend section. See "Political Lines, Sharply Drawn," By Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post Staff Writer, Friday, June 6, 2008; Page WE23 who for some reason seems to feel that Oliphant is too hard on politicians. "Is that possible?" I must ask.

Actually, it's a shame this story wasn't longer as Sullivan could have been onto something, but had only 2 paragraphs per exhibit to make his point. Personally, I don't agree with him that political cartoonists are getting harder on their subjects. There's a lot of softballs out there, and the fact that Oliphant is throwing them may very well be the reason that he doesn't have a base newspaper. And Berryman's contemporaries could be as biting as any cartoonists - Berryman just chose not to be.

Here's the basic information lifted from the Post:

A Trio of Cartoon Exhibitions
Friday, June 6, 2008; Page WE23

Running for Office: Candidates, Campaigns and the Cartoons of Clifford Berryman Through Aug. 17 at the National Archives, Constitution Avenue between Seventh and Ninth streets NW (Metro: Archives-Navy Memorial). 866-272-6272. Open daily 10 to 7. Free.

Herblock's Presidents: "Puncturing Pomposity" Through Nov. 30 at the National Portrait Gallery, Eighth and F streets NW (Metro: Gallery Place-Chinatown). 202-633-1000 (TDD: 202-633-5285). Open daily 11:30 to 7. Free.

Leadership: Oliphant Cartoons and Sculpture From the Bush Years Through July 15 at the Stanford in Washington Art Gallery, 2655 Connecticut Ave. NW (Metro: Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan). 202-332-6235. Open Monday-Friday 9 to 7; Saturday-Sunday noon to 6. Free.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Politico cartoonist Wuerker on Oliphant exhibit

The Politico's editorial cartoonist Matt Wuerker has got an excellent review of the Pat Oliphant show in Woodley Park in today's paper. It runs two pages with color photographs. Those not in DC can see it on the web at "Political Ink: Oliphant shares cartoons," by Matt Wuerker, Politico May 12, 2008.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Post's Style and Arts section goes to the cartoons

Three! articles in one section on comics:

1. Reggie Hudlin and BET with glances at Boondocks and Black Panther - "Channel Changer: Three Years Ago, Reggie Hudlin Came To Save a Troubled BET. But Has He?" By Teresa Wiltz, Washington Post Staff Writer, Sunday, May 4, 2008; M01.

2. A glance at Oliphant's sculpture of Rumsfeld on display in Woodley Park - "Capturing a Hero for Posterity," by John Pancake, Washington Post May 4, 2008

3. Quesada on Marvel - "Now here we are. We're going to be producing our own stuff.": There's Nothing Mild-Mannered About Joe Quesada's Marvel Comics," by David Betancourt, Washington Post Sunday, May 4, 2008; M02.

and not on comics, but on visual art is this fascinating piece on the true colors of ancient statuary - "Correcting a Colorblind View of the Treasures of Antiquity," By Blake Gopnik, Washington Post Staff Writer, Sunday, May 4, 2008; Page M01.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Oliphant exhibit opening photos

Here's a link - at some point, I'll put the best up here with labels.

Oliphant Exhibit in Washington, DC press release

Oliphant Exhibit in Washington, DC

Kansas City, MO (04/08/2008) Editorial cartoonist Pat Oliphant’s exhibit, "Leadership: Oliphant Cartoons and Sculpture from the Bush Years" will be on display April 15 through July 15, 2008 at the Stanford University Washington Center Art Gallery in Washington, DC.

The exhibit is based on a collection of Oliphant’s work in his recently released book, "Leadership: Political Cartoons – The Bush Years" from Andrews McMeel Publishing.

A review of the book on called Oliphant a "...legend who still rushes at his targets knives out, no apologies. He also draws extremely well. After reading so many newspaper cartoons where it seems the reader is expected to compensate for odd stylistic choices and a lack of craft, reading a bunch of Oliphant is like moving mid-bite from vanilla wafers to rum-laced chocolate cheesecake. He's one of the few cartoonists in that field who can communicate -- and punish -- with the quality of his art alone."

The Stanford University Washington Center Art Gallery is located in the Sant Building at 2655 Connecticut Ave., NW in Washington, DC. For questions about the museum or the exhibit, please call 202.332.6235.

For more of Pat Oliphant’s work, visit: