Events | March 17, 2011

Graphic Arts Galleries at LOC Open on March 18

The Library of Congress announces the opening of the Swann Gallery and the Herblock Gallery on Friday, March 18, 2011. The galleries are two of three exhibition spaces located within the new Graphic Arts Galleries on the ground level of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building.

The third exhibition space in the Graphic Arts Galleries will open in September 2011. The galleries will focus on the Library’s cartoon collections and offer visitors a rich sampling of caricatures, comic strips, political drawings, artwork created for magazines and graphic-novel illustrations.

The galleries will be open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and admission is free.

The Herblock Gallery celebrates the work of editorial cartoonist Herbert L. Block—better known as "Herblock"—with an ongoing display of 10 original drawings, to change every six months. A four-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, who spent more than 55 years at the Washington Post, Herblock took on political corruption wherever he saw it, and championed the rights of "the little guy." The inaugural exhibition, "Herblock Looks at Communism," presents a selection of his 1951 cartoons about the Korean War. A new display in September will explore the Khrushchev-Kennedy confrontation in 1961. The Herb Block Foundation donated the collection of more than 14,000 original cartoon drawings and 50,000 rough sketches, as well as manuscripts, to the Library of Congress in 2002, and has generously continued to provide funds to support ongoing programming.

The Swann Gallery introduces visitors to the fascinating world of caricatures, political cartoons, comics, animation art, graphic novels and illustrations. A permanent memorial exhibition will feature 15 facsimiles of treasured cartoons from the Swann and other cartoon collections, which represent the broad range of holdings in the Library of Congress. This exhibition is made possible by the Swann Foundation, which was established by Erwin Swann (1906-1973) in 1967 to support ongoing exhibitions, related programming, preservation and development of collections and to encourage appreciation for the dynamic, evolving field of cartoon and illustration arts.

In September 2011, the third gallery will open with a changing-exhibition program that showcases the graphic arts collections in the Prints and Photographs Division at the Library of Congress. Its inaugural exhibition will be "Timely and Timeless: New Comic Art Acquisitions," featuring treasures of original cartoon art that were added to the Library’s collections during the past decade. On display will be political commentaries, comic-strip and comic-book drawings, New Yorker magazine illustrations and examples of graphic narratives.

The Library has a long history of exhibiting cartoon and caricature art, with the first Swann Gallery—known as the Oval Gallery—opening in 1982 in the James Madison Building. The Swann Gallery moved to the Thomas Jefferson Building in 1998 and remained open until 2004, when preparations started for construction of the Library’s tunnel to the Capitol Visitors Center. In subsequent years, large-scale cartoon art exhibitions—"Humor's Edge: Cartoons by Ann Telnaes" (2004); "Enduring Outrage: Editorial Cartoons by Herblock" (2006); "Cartoon America" (2006); and "Herblock!" (2009)—were held in various exhibition spaces in the Jefferson Building.

The Library has been collecting original cartoon art for more than 140 years. It is a major center for cartoon research with holdings of more than 100,000 original cartoon drawings and prints. These works, housed in the Prints and Photographs Division, span five centuries and range from 17th-century Dutch political prints to 21st-century contemporary comic strips.

The Prints and Photographs Division holds the largest-known collection of American political prints, the finest assemblage of British satirical prints outside Great Britain and holdings of original drawings by generations of America’s best cartoonists and illustrators that are unequaled in breadth and depth. Extensive runs of rare satirical and comic journals from Europe and the United States represent another distinguishing facet. The Library acquired these materials through a variety of sources including artists’ gifts, donations by private collectors, selective purchases and copyright registration.

Sample images from the Swann Gallery:??