School of Art, Media, and Technology

Illustration Symposium: The Artist as Author

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The Illustration Program of the School of Art, Media and Technology at Parsons The New School for Design presents:

The Artist as Author — a symposium on self-illustrated texts in history and contemporary practice.
Saturday, March 27, 2010 from 3 – 8:30pm in Wollman Hall, 5th Floor, 66 West 12th Street, NYC; Free and open to the public

The participants:
Patricia Mainardi: Show and Tell, Popular Prints and Comics
The development of comics from serial narration is familiar to us, but the parallel trajectory of comics from popular prints, called Images d’Epinal  from the town in Eastern France where they were principally produced, is virtually unknown.  Popular prints are virtually ignored in histories of comics because they are assumed to be derivative, produced by semi-skilled artisans for an unsophisticated rural audience. Nonetheless, while urban audiences saw the birth of comic books in the 1830s, with the first publications of Rudolph Töpffer, rural audiences by that time were already quite familiar with colorful popular prints of sequential narration. By the last decades of the nineteenth century the Image d’Epinal and the comic strip had cross-fertilized and morphed into our modern comics.

Patricia Mainardi is Professor of Art History at City University of New York, where she teaches at The Graduate Center.  Her publications include Art and Politics of the Second Empire: The Universal Expositions of 1855 and 1867 (Yale, 1987), which received the College Art Association Charles Rufus Morey Award for the best art history book of 1988; The End of the Salon: Art and the State in the Early Third Republic (Cambridge, 1994); Husbands, Wives, and Lovers: Marriage and Its Discontents in Nineteenth-Century France (Yale, 2003); and many articles and catalogues. She is currently completing a book: Another World: Illustrated Print Culture in Nineteenth-Century France, which includes chapters on caricature, book illustration, popular prints and comics.

Emily Lauer: Signs as Designs: Thackeray’s multivalent Vanity Fair illustrations.
William Makepeace Thackeray was an artist as well as an author, and gained his reputation as a satirist through both his written and drawn “sketches” before his first major successful novel, Vanity Fair. When he approached his publishers, the fact that he could illustrate his own written text was a useful bargaining chip. This paper explores the way his illustrations in that novel form part of a hybrid textual experience. The many different types of illustrations – full page plates, half-page woodcuts, and historiated initials – all serve multiple functions. Thematically, the novel deals with issues of artifice and multi-layered pretending, and the illustrations provide a tangible clue to the way visual representation in this novel has complicated relationships with the written text, as well as with the composition of both the page and the storyworld Thackeray creates.

Emily Lauer, MA MPhil, teaches Children’s Literature at Hunter College, where her students routinely say brilliant and helpful things about illustrations. “Signs as Designs” is part of her PhD dissertation, “Drawing Conclusions: Visual Literacy In Fiction,” which she will defend later this Spring at the CUNY Graduate Center.

David Kurnick on The Theatrical Impulse and the Illustrated Novel
David Kurnick is an assistant professor of English at Rutgers University. He is working on a book called “Empty Houses: Theatrical Failure and the Novel of Interiority” about major novelists with frustrated theatrical careers.

Ben Katchor on Picture-recitation
Ben Katchor’s picture-stories appear in Metropolis magazine. His upcoming collection of weekly strips, The Cardboard Valise, will be published by Pantheon Books. His most recent music-theater collaboration with Mark Mulcahy, A Checkroom Romance, was commissioned and workshopped in 2009 at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library and will be performed at Lincoln Center in 2010. He is an Associate Professor at Parsons, The New School for Design in New York City. For more information visit

Jerry Moriarty, contemporary picture-story artist discusses his latest project:  “Whatsa Paintoonist?”
Jerry Moriarty has taught painting and drawing at The School of Visual Arts in NYC since 1963. A prolific artist, writer and illustrator, his work has appeared in Raw magazine, Kramers Ergot, Comic Art Magazine and The Best American Comics, 2009.  In the 1980s and 90s, he produced a series of subway posters for The School of Visual Arts. His work has been exhibited at the Corridor Gallery in Soho, SVA Museum,  Cue Foundation, the Phoenix Art Museum and the Vancouver Art Gallery. His latest book, The Complete Jack Survives, was published by Buenaventura Press in 2009. He was interviewed by Chris Ware in The Believer (art issue) in 2009. He was the recipient of an NEA grant.

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