Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Cartoon Museums I: Cartoonmuseum Basel
Cartoons originated in the Middle Ages and initially described a preparatory design for a piece of artwork in another medium, such as a fresco, tapestry, or stained glass window. The word cartoon derives from the Italian cartone, which simply means large piece of paper. In the 19th century, cartoons became associated with humorous illustrations in magazines and newspapers, and today, they are mostly associated with comic strips and animated films.
The founder and benefactor of the Cartoonmuseum in Basel-Stadt, Switzerland, was patron Dieter Burckhardt (1914 - 1991), who wished to make his private collection of caricatures and cartoons accessible to a wider audience. (Danke schön!) The Christoph Merian Foundation oversees the foundation he started in 1979, the "Stiftung Sammlung Karikaturen & Cartoons."
Jürg Spahr, otherwise known as JÜSP (1925 - 2002) oversaw the museum until 1995. JÜSP received the unique New Yorker "Cartoons for Peace Award"; twice he received the Italian 'Dattero d'Oro', a gold metal by the Swiss Sports Journalists, and the American "Distinguished Cartoonists Award."
The Cartoonmuseum holds over 3,400 original works in addition to almost 2,000 works on loan by nearly 700 artists from the 20th and 21st centuries from over 40 countries. The collection includes work by Jean-Maurice Bosc, Claire Bretécher, Paul Flora, George Grosz, Olaf Gulbransson, Heinrich Kley, Loriot, H.G. Rauch, Ronald Searle, Jean-Jacques Sempé, Saul Steinberg, Tomi Ungerer, etc. One of my personal favorites being Sempé.
The innocent simplicity of Sempé, in my opinion, mirrors the way the Cartoonmuseum displays these great works of humorous art.
One of Basel's new acquisitions is Der Henker (2008) by Nicolas Mahler:
(Translation: do you hear the wood breathing?)
While I have only visited a few cartoon museums throughout the world, here's a list to get you started on your worldwide exploration of cartoons.
1. Istanbul Municipality Cartoon and Humor Museum (Turkey)
2. The Museum Kartun Indonesia (Indonesia)
3. Gabrovo Museum (Bulgaria)
*The world's largest humor collection
4. Azimzadeh Cartoon Museum (Azerbaijan)
5. Zemun Museum (Serbia)
6. Kyoto International Manga Museum (Japan)
7. Anadolu University Cartoon Museum (Turkey)
8. Cartoonmuseum Basel (Switzerland)
9. European Cartoon Center (Belgium)
10. Museum of Caricature and Cartoon Art (Poland)
11. Tabriz Cartoon Museum (Iran)
12. Cartoon Art Museum (San Francisco, California - USA)
13. MoCCA (Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art) (New York - USA)
14. The Cartoon Museum (London)
16. The Israeli Cartoon Museum (Israel)
Special mention. San Francisco Public Library (USA)
The San Francisco Public Library is not a museum, however, they do house the 2nd largest humor collection in the world, which includes a large number of cartoons and comics that are accessible by visiting The Book Arts and Special Collections department on the 6th floor.