February 3, 1998 Exhibition of Oliphant Cartoons to Open

Press Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189
Website: View the exhibition online

"Oliphant's Anthem: Pat Oliphant at the Library of Congress," an exhibition commemorating the Library's recent acquisition of 60 seminal works by one of America's foremost political cartoonists, will open on April 2 in the South Gallery of the Great Hall in the Jefferson Building. The exhibit closes July 6. The gallery, located adjacent to the new Visitors' Center in the Jefferson Building, is open to the public free of charge from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

In 1966, two years after he left his native Australia for an American career, Pat Oliphant (b.1935) won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning. Thirty years later, he is considered among the most gifted practitioners in the history of the genre. He has caricatured seven United States presidents, from Lyndon Johnson to Bill Clinton, and offered provocative graphic commentary on salient social and political issues of the past three decades, including Watergate, Vietnam, the collapse of communism in Europe , and the Gulf War. Few artists have done as much to influence the form and content of contemporary American political cartoons.

"Pat Oliphant has created many of the most challenging, insightful, amusing, and artistic editorial cartoons of the past three decades. We are thrilled to add his name to the pantheon of great political artists represented in the Library's collections," said Harry Katz, the Library's Curator of Popular and Applied Graphic Art and organizer of the exhibition.

The South Gallery of the newly restored Great Hall, overlooking the U.S. Capitol, provides a spectacular setting for Mr. Oliphant's personal and professional interest in his adopted land and the Library's role in the preservation of political and social commentary. Fifty-one political drawings, spanning his career from the Pulitzer-Prize winning cartoon to new work, form the nucleus of the exhibition, with an emphasis on recent drawings. Additionally, the exhibition includes the artist's working sketchbooks, painting, monotypes, and sculpture.

The acquisition of drawings by Pat Oliphant enhances the rich cartoon-related holdings of the Library of Congress, including the largest collection of American political prints in existence, one of the finest assemblages of English satirical prints outside Great Britain, outstanding holdings of original drawings by generations of America's best cartoonists and illustrators, an important collection of early comic books, and extensive runs of rare satirical and comic journals from Europe and the United States.

The Caroline and Erwin Swann Memorial Fund at the Library of Congress made possible this exhibition. New York advertising executive Erwin Swann (1906-1973) assembled an extraordinarily diverse collection of nearly 2,000 works of cartoon art representing 400 artists and spanning two centuries. He developed the collection, which came to the Library in 1974, specifically to promote the preservation and connoisseurship of original cartoon and illustration drawings. The Library of Congress honors the tradition he established through the acquisition, exhibition and publication of noteworthy cartoonists.

A fully illustrated book with a foreword by former Senator Bob Dole, co-published by the Library of Congress and Andrews McMeel, accompanies the exhibition and will be available for $24.95. The publication's text, drawn from extensive, recent interviews with the artist, discusses significant issues in his professional life: his early influences, sources of inspiration, struggle for editorial independence and diversions into fine art, the impact of his cartoons, and the events, controversies, and influences that have shaped his remarkable career. A free exhibition brochure also will be available.

Members of the press are invited to join Pat Oliphant at a preview at 11 a.m. March 30 in the South Gallery of the Jefferson Building.

The Library of Congress and the National Portrait Gallery will host a joint symposium on cartoon and caricature on May 15 and 16. Pat Oliphant will be one of the featured speakers on May 16 at the Library of Congress and will be available for signing books that afternoon.


PR 98-006
ISSN 0731-3527