July 24, 2003 Library of Congress Acquires Art Wood Collection of Cartoon, Comic Strip and Animation Art
Public Contact: Sara Duke 202-707-3630
Contact: Sheryl Cannady 202-707-6456
The Library of Congress announces the acquisition of more than 30,000 original political cartoons, comic strips, animation cels and illustrator's drawings from the collection of award-winning political cartoonist J. Arthur Wood Jr. A portion of the collection was donated to the Library and the balance of the acquisition was made possible in part by a generous contribution from H. Fred Krimendahl II, a member of the Madison Council, the Library's private sector advisory group.
[NOTE: Librarian of Congress James H. Billington will discuss the acquisition with Wood at a briefing for the press at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 26, in the Whittall Pavilion, Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., in Washington, D.C. Works from the collection will be on display and digital images will be available to the media.]
"The Library of Congress is very pleased to accept Mr. Wood's unparalleled collection, which nearly doubles our holdings of original cartoon and caricature drawings," said Billington. "Certainly we have a broader collection than any other museum or library in the country, and it will provide scholars with research materials for centuries to come. It is a true 'gift to the nation.'"
A resident of Washington, D.C., Wood collected the works of his leading American and European colleagues throughout his long career. In offering his collection to the Library of Congress, Wood wrote, "A large part of my collection resulted from knowing the artists personally and were gifts to me. These [are] given as an outright contribution."
Wood's extraordinary collection also includes works that he purchased, particularly in the areas of animation art and illustrators' drawings. The purchased portion of the collection under the agreement with the Library includes only those items that he bought to expand the collection.
During his professional life, Wood worked diligently to establish a museum or gallery to preserve and showcase his collection. He achieved his goal in 1995 with the opening of the National Gallery of Caricature and Cartoon Art in downtown Washington, D.C., but the gallery closed in 1997 due to a lack of sustained funding. Undeterred, Wood turned to the Library of Congress, where he had worked early in his career, to preserve and present his collection.
This world-class collection spans three centuries and encompasses a vast and comprehensive array of original historical political cartoons, caricatures, comic strips, humor cartoons, illustrations and animation cels. The Art Wood Collection contains numerous "firsts," "earliests," and "one-of-a-kind" pieces, many of which have been included in major museum exhibitions and historical publications. The following are among the highlights of the collection:
- Important cels and drawings from pioneer animation films, including Winsor McCay's early masterpiece "Gertie the Dinosaur" (1914), the first commercially successful animated film; and "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937), Walt Disney's groundbreaking first full-length animated feature. Both have been included in the National Film Registry maintained by the Library of Congress.
- Thousands of drawings that represent the origins and development of American newspaper cartooning, including rare drawings by Richard Outcault of "The Yellow Kid," the first great comic strip character; an extremely rare 1921 drawing of "Olive Oyl" by Popeye creator Elzie Segar (who didn't create Popeye until 1931); a definitive caricature of William Randolph Hearst by Homer Davenport; the first modern political cartoonist; and superlative collections of such famous strips as Winsor McCay's "Little Nemo," George McManus' "Bringing Up Father," George Herriman's "Krazy Kat," Chic Young's "Blondie," Hal Foster's "Prince Valiant," Milt Caniff's "Terry and the Pirates" and Charles Schulz's "Peanuts."
- Works by the most influential European masters of graphic art, including William Hogarth, Thomas Rowlandson, George Cruikshank, Honoré Daumier, Heinrich Kley and Henri Toulouse Lautrec.
- Numerous drawings by celebrated artists of America's "golden age of illustration" (1880-1920s) such as Howard Pyle, James Montgomery Flagg, Edwin Abbey, and Dean Cornwell, among others.
- Hundreds of works documenting the largely unexamined contributions by such pioneering women illustrators as Katherine Pyle, Rose O'Neill, and Nell Brinkley.
- Landmark works by the best American editorial artists of the past two centuries, including Thomas Nast, John McCutcheon, Art Young, Arthur Szyk, "Ding" Darling, Herb Block and most of the Pulitzer Prize-winners for editorial cartooning.
In spring 2005 the Library of Congress will present a major exhibition and accompanying illustrated catalog of selected works drawn from the Art Wood Collection. More information about this acquisition as well as the Library's additional holdings of original cartoon art is available through the Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon Web site: www.loc.gov/rr/print/swann.