Searle In America Reception and Presentation
Cartoon Art Museum
- Time & Place
The Cartoon Art Museum celebrates the life and art of Ronald Searle with Aardman/Pixar story artist Matt Jones, a lifelong Searle fan and longtime publisher of the Ronald Searle Tribute blog, with a special presentation on Saturday, February 22, 2014, from 6:00-9:00pm. Jones will discuss Searle’s artwork and his legacy, and will discuss his forthcoming Searle-related projects during a slideshow presentation at 7:00pm. Searle fans will have the opportunity to view the exhibition prior to Jones’s lecture, and a catalog signing will immediately follow his presentation.
Tickets for this reception are $10, and Cartoon Art Museum members will receive free admission for themselves and a guest. The deluxe ticket package is $30, and includes the full-color 96-page catalog featuring all of the Ronald Searle artwork featured in the Searle in America exhibition as well as dozens of Searle tribute pieces rendered by today’s top animators and illustrators.
Matt Jones’s Curatorial Statement:
“Ronald Searle is known primarily as the creator of the wicked schoolgirls of St. Trinians and later his series of humorous books on cats and their foibles. The general public in the U.K., Europe and the U.S. hold these books dear, but to the artist they were merely ‘what sold’ and paid the bills. He even ‘killed off’ the St. Trinians’ girls in their last book in 1957; the year of his first visit to America. A household name in Great Britain, Searle would crack the American magazine illustration market under the guidance of his New York art agent, John Locke.
“He spent over a decade between the late ‘50s and late ‘60s traveling extensively on reportage assignments for the premier magazines of the day: Life, Holiday, Look, Venture, Travel & Leisure. It was a golden era of illustration, where magazines had sizable budgets to send illustrators to exotic locations and commission
substantial spreads of artwork.
“Sadly, this work is largely forgotten. Holiday magazine was not published in Europe and is virtually unheard of in the U.S., slipping into decline in the late ‘70s. Searle republished some of this work in collected editions, but the books are long out of print. The original art has languished with art editors and agents for decades, and most remain unseen since their first publication.
“Well I’ve found it! I’ve unearthed the lot. I’ve maintained a website devoted to Searle’s work since 2006 and even became acquainted with the artist himself while working in the south of France in the years preceding his death. Initially starting out of a love of his work and a desire to see more of it online, the site has become an essential database of an incredible career spanning eight decades!
“I’ve traveled far and wide myself to track down the originals, and this show at CAM gathers some of the best. From collections in the Midwest, New York, Connecticut and California, I’ve assembled a show revealing my favorite era in Searle’s career. The golden period of 1955-1965 was a decade of intense work and travel, and the art has a vitality and urgency to it energised by the artist being constantly on the go. The work is a synthesis of his acute observational style and his ability to caricature figures, crowds and architecture. Most of the work is in full color, which will be a surprise to those only familiar with his monotone cats and schoolgirls.
“This catalogue is laid out in an unorthodox manner. I wanted to present the work uncropped where possible without it being split across two pages; hence the dual portrait/landscape format.
“The show would not have been possible without the contributions of a group of cartoonist friends around the world who contributed original art to an online auction to raise the funding necessary to stage the Exhibition and put this catalogue together. This is dedicated to them, to all Searle fans and to new fans who will discover this part of his oeuvre for the first time.”
-Matt Jones, San Francisco, September 2013