Dave Eggers has curated a new art show that will go on display starting April 2 at Apexart, 21 Church Street. It’s called Lots of Things Like This and will include art by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Leonard Cohen, David Berman, David Mamet, William Steig and Kurt Vonnegut, among others. “There were three main people who worked on the show on our end, Jesse Nathan, Jordan Bass, and myself, and we all took a shot at writing essays about the work we’d found and included in this show,” Mr. Eggers wrote on the Apexart website. “The first drafts of these essays were a little formal and maybe even pretentious.” You, Mr. Eggers, pretentious? Never! He goes on to describe the exhibit:
This show, titled Lots of Things Like This, came about when apexart asked for an idea for a show. The first thought that occurred to us was an exhibit that would highlight work that included these three elements:
1. An image
2. Some words (usually referring to the image)
3. A sense of humor
The show never got much more complicated than that. We started with the artists we knew we had to include: Raymond Pettibon, Tucker Nichols, Maira Kalman and David Shrigley. All four of them had found a place in the fine art world, even though in many cases their work was both narrative and funny, a combination that’s historically been rare in galleries and museums. For the most part, artists who use text in their work don’t write punchlines – the text is usually abstract or oblique, open to interpretation. But the rise of comics-based art, and of Pettibon in particular, had opened the doors to new hybrids of words and images, thank god.
So we started looking for work by our starting four artists, and many others, that satisfied the criteria. We figured we would bring in some artists who generally go by the label cartoonists (because, generally speaking, image + text + humor = cartoons), and we did, but we also found some great examples of the form from long-dead painters (Goya, Magritte), more recently dead genre-straddlers (Steinberg, Warhol), and a wonderfully diverse group of artists from all kinds of disciplines: writers, poets, musicians and playwrights. Actually just one playwright, David Mamet. But he’s one of the best.