Author(s): Matthew Thurber
A raucous skewering of the art world as told by a master of absurdity
Matthew Thurber’s Art Comic is a blunt and hilarious assault on the swirling hot mess that is the art world. From sycophantic fans to duplicitous gallerists, fatuous patrons to self-aggrandizing art stars, he lampoons each and every facet of the eminently ridiculous industry of truth and beauty. Follow Cupcake, the Matthew Barney obsessive; Epiphany née Tiffany Clydesdale, the divinely inspired performance artist; Ivanhoe, a modern knight in search of artistic vengeance, and his squire, Turnbuckle. Each artist is more ridiculous than the last, yet they are tested and transformed by the even more absurd machinations of Thurber’s fantastical art world. Can the Free Little Pigs destroy this blighted system? Will “The Group” continue its indirect assassination of promising young artists? Can artistic integrity exist in this world amid the capitalist co-opting, petty rivalries, otherworldly portals, heavenly interventions, and murders at sea?
Art Comic is brimming with references and cameos, outsize personalities and shuddering nonsense—Robert Rauschenberg smashes a beer bottle, Francesca Woodman, a wineglass. In the center of it all, Thurber’s twisted drawings and laugh-out-loud dialogue convey a complicated picture of an industry at the intersection of fantasy and reality. Part scathing condemnation, part irreverent appreciation, Thurber’s comics skewer the art world in a way only an art lover can.
“If there is such planet as the Art World, then Matthew Thurber is an intergalactic ranger and Art Comic is the trippy travelogue. Thurber turbo-charges through a vast and vapid landscape; one where wishes wither, hopes get popped, and dreams die or otherwise get coopted by fat-heads and bullies. Along the way we meet top-hatted wannabes, art handlers, maligned piggies, violently vengeful knights, and my favorite, the inhabitants of UXOBI, ‘where fecal matter is the only artistic medium that has ever existed.’ Take me there! For it is in Art Comic we meet our most alien selves.”—Jim Drain
“A blistering take on the art world… Thurber’s absurd narrative takes to task the often farcical nature of a notoriously self-aggrandizing industry.”—Artsy’s Holiday Gift Guide
“[Art Comic] mercilessly deflates the pomposity of the mainstream art world.”—Blouin Artinfo
“Thurber’s at his best experimenting with a wide array of visual techniques, none of which get tiresome, revealing an artist and storyteller who is wonderfully inventive.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)