Jul 16th 2021

Chicago Comics: Live Drawing: Chris Ware

@ Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

220 E Chicago Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

Opening Friday, July 16th, from 10AM - 5PM

On view through Sunday, October 3rd

Artists from Chicago Comics: 1960s to Now work onsite at the MCA while the exhibition is on view, sharing their art and practice live. Watch as the artists create their current projects in real time, projected on a screen in the Commons for visitors to see. For this event, Chris Ware joins us.


Chris Ware is the author of Jimmy Corrigan: the Smartest Kid on Earth, which won the Guardian Prize in 2000, and Building Stories, which was chosen as a Top Ten Fiction Book by both The New York Times and Time Magazine in 2012. A regular contributor of comic strips and more than two dozen covers to The New Yorker, his work has been exhibited at the Hammer Museum Los Angeles, the MCA Chicago, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as in regular exhibitions at the Adam Baumgold Gallery in New York and the Galerie Martel in Paris. His work was the focus of the PBS program “Art in the 21st Century” in late 2016, and an eponymous art monograph of his work was also released by Rizzoli in 2017. Rusty Brown, Part I was published in 2019 and selected as one the Best 100 Books of the Year by The New York Times.


Chicago has been a center for comics for decades—a haven not only for making and publishing cartoons, but also for innovating on the medium. Chicago Comics: 1960s to Now tells the story of the art form in the influential city through the work of Chicago’s many cartoonists: known, under-recognized, and up-and-coming.

The exhibition traces the evolution of comics in Chicago, as cartoonists ventured beyond the pages of newspapers and into experimental territory including long-form storytelling, countercultural critique, and political activism. Chicago Comics examines styles, schools of thought, and modes of publication across six decades of cartooning, including works from artists who are changing the medium today. The exhibition seeks to bring to the fore artists of color who were previously under-recognized throughout their careers. In this pursuit, the exhibition features archival material previously not seen in museums and offers a revised history of the art form. Represented throughout this timeline are special sections that highlight key artists including Kerry James Marshall, Lynda Barry, and Chris Ware.

How do cartoonists work? How do they collaborate? What tools do they use to build rich worlds and characters? Alongside familiar three-panel cartoons, Chicago Comics showcases developmental sketches, dioramas, and even sculptures, offering a glimpse into the artistic processes of cartoonists. By tracing the relationships between these artists—as thinkers, makers, and often teachers—the exhibition reveals how Chicago emerged as a vibrant community and center for innovation in the medium.

Through deep research into the many communities of makers, Chicago Comics offers an unprecedented portrait of sixty years of cartooning and celebrates an artistic community that continues to thrive today—one that could have only been fostered here in Chicago.

The exhibition is guest-curated by Dan Nadel; organized for the MCA with Michael Darling, former James W. Alsdorf Chief Curator, and Jack Schneider, Curatorial Assistant; and designed by Norman Kelley.

Exhibition stools provided by Jason Lewis.

This exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Gary Leib (1955–2021).

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