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Comment:  Holocaust Research Distribution List
Version: 5.5 -- Copyright (c) 1991/92, Anastasios Kotsikonas
From: (Charles P Schultz)
To: Multiple recipients of list 
Subject: Spiegelman Art Exhibition
Status: RO

Pulitzer-winning cartoon epic makes up compelling exhibition
By Helen L. Kohen
Herald Art Critic

  Of all art forms, the comics would seem the most ill-suited
to detailing the human story of the Holocaust. The outrageous
nature of the time, its moral significance, seem unlikely to
be conveyed through the irreverence associated with catchy
cartoon figures and texts that rarely rise above "whiz" and
  Yet in Maus, the Pulitzer Prize-winning two-volume cartoon
epic subtitled A Survivor's Tale, artist/writer/editor/car-
toonist Art Spiegelman does just that - delivers a story too
large for us to bear through a means small enough to tempt.
  Published in book form in 1991, Maus was, in a sense, a
work in progress for almost 20 years, the time during which
Spiegelman came to terms with the multiple tragedies of his
family's Holocaust experience in Poland, his mother's later
suicide and his tortured relationship with his father, Vladek.
The tangible parts of that process - including 40 taped hours
of the elder Spiegelman recounting what happened to him and
the artist's early sketches, trial pages and drawings for the
completed volumes - make up the compelling exhibition The
Road to Maus now at the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale.
  Unveiled at New York's Museum of Modern Art last January
and here in South Florida under the auspices of the planned
International Museum of Cartoon Art in Boca Raton, the display
shows us how Spiegelman juggled with the literary and visual
content of the story, editing his father's words into plot
and scene, recasting the key players as cats (Nazis) and mice
  This is really two shows: the original page-by-page Volume
II of Maus and the accompanying drama of the artist finding
the right scale for his strip and the right body language and
facial expressions for his animal symbols.
  There is fascinating art material here, both in Spiegelman's
hand and among his sources. Because photographs of concentra-
tion camps are hard to come by, Spiegelman took his own at the
now-preserved sites. He also relied on sketches of camp life
compiled by survivors and on a page from an old trade publica-
tion for the segments about his father learning to repair
shoes. There are a few bits of family memorabilia as well, old
passports, a photograph of a brother who died.
  Through the process of paring down the characters, overlay-
ing a complex story with graphic clarity, the mice have empty
eyes - like Little Orphan Annie. They are almost undifferen-
tiated, yet in the play of the narrative retain individual
characteristics. You always know who's talking, who's sick,
who's wise. And you never lose sight of Vladek, whose diffi-
cult personality was forged in hell.
  It was daring and brilliant of Spiegelman to risk unburden-
ing so personal a Holocaust story through caricature. It works
because he is so inventive, so creative an artist, novelist
and historian. Still, the exhibition is just The Road to . . .
The books, Maus, Volumes I and II, are a must.

from The Miami Herald
Wednesday, February 24, 1993
page 7E

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