Friday, June 28, 2024

Mad Magazine Art at the Rockwell Museum

The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, is currently hosting an ambitious summer exhibition called "What, Me Worry? The Art and Humor of MAD Magazine". This is the first comprehensive museum show dedicated to MAD Magazine's art and satire.

The exhibition explores MAD's evolution from its beginnings as a popular humor comic book in 1952 to its emergence as an influential magazine that tweaked those in power, engaging generations of loyal readers, me included. The show is popular, and the audience includes both young and old people who grew up loving the magazine’s mildly subversive attitude.

Curator Stephanie Plunkett selected a wide range of original pen-and-ink drawings and paintings created by MAD's "Usual Gang of Idiots" — including the regulars such as Jack Davis, Sergio Aragones, and Norman Mingo. There’s even a whole room devoted to works by the self-taught caricature artist Mort Drucker.

Hermann Meija -Bored of the Rings—The Fellowship of the Ka-Ching!, 2002, Ink and watercolor on paper.

The exhibition provides a nostalgic journey for Baby Boomers who grew up with MAD, while also introducing younger readers to its satirical ingenuity.

Along with the MAD show, there’s also an accompanying exhibition of Norman Rockwell’s humorous illustration. Rockwell himself never illustrated for MAD, but he came close to doing so, and there’s an exchange of letters where he almost accepts an assignment to paint the definitive Alfred E. Neuman, but ultimately he turned it down.

Speaking of James Warhola, there’s a screening tonight, June 28th, of the documentary “My Nephew Jamie.”

Admission price to the museum is $25 for adults. The exhibit runs through October 27. Allow lots of time, because there are more than five big rooms jammed with art, and many of the pieces have a lot of elements to digest and a lot of text to read.

Complete list of artists on my Substack.


Anne said...

Looks like an awesome exhibit. I bet folks of a certain age, like myself, would be amazed at how much they remember. I particularly remember the Mad movie send ups Thank you,James for posting this!

Tobias Gembalski said...

I would love to see some of Hermann Meija's paintings. His style is superb. I never was a big MAD fan, but I remember buying some issues just because of his contributions...