Friday, March 26, 2010

Cartoonist Jules Feiffer Headlines American Pictures Series at the Smithsonian

CHESTERTOWN, MD – On Saturday, April 17, the 2010 “American Pictures” series continues when Jules Feiffer, one of the nation’s best-loved satirists, explores Bob Landry’s visually thrilling photograph “Fred Astaire in ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz,’ 1945”.

A joint program of Washington College, the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the “American Pictures” series offers a highly original approach to the visual arts, pairing great works of art with leading figures of American culture. This spring's all-star line-up features a trio of Pulitzer Prize-winners: Feiffer, Civil War historian James McPherson (who appeared on April 10), and cultural historian David Hackett Fischer, who will appear on Saturday, May 1. Each speaker chooses a single powerful image and investigates its meanings, revealing how artworks reflect American identity and inspire creativity in many different fields. The series director is historian and essayist Adam Goodheart, Hodson Trust-Griswold Director of the college's C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.

Jules Feiffer is an award-winning cartoonist, screenwriter, and playwright whose satirical outlook has helped define contemporary American society. From his Village Voice editorial cartoons to his plays and screenplays, (Little Murders and Carnal Knowledge) to books for children and young adults, (The Man in the Ceiling, A Room with a Zoo) Feiffer has had a remarkable creative career. His illustrations in the perennial children’s classic, The Phantom Tollbooth, continue to delight readers of all ages almost 50 years after the book’s debut. Feiffer’s memoir, Backing into Forward (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday), was released earlier this month to critical acclaim. The New York Times called the book “funny, acerbic, subversive, fiercely attuned to the absurdities in [Feiffer’s] own life and the county at large.”

In 1997, Feiffer became the first cartoonist commissioned by the New York Times to create comic strips for the paper’s Op-Ed page. He won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 1986 and an Academy Award for his animated short, Munro, in 1961. He has also received the George Polk Award for his cartoons, an Obie for his plays and Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Writer’s Guild of America and the National Cartoonists Society. He has been honored with major retrospectives at the New-York Historical Society, the Library of Congress and The School of Visual Art.

All “American Pictures” events take place at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery, located at 8th and F Streets, N.W., in Washington, D.C. Feiffer’s talk will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the museums’ Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium. Tickets are available in the F Street lobby, beginning at 3:30 p.m. No reservations are necessary for the general public.

Students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of Washington College may reserve tickets to this and the other “American Pictures” events on a first-come, first-served basis. The Starr Center is also running free buses from Chestertown to Washington for each talk. For details, please call 410-810-7165 or e-mail For more information on the American Pictures series, visit

About the Sponsors

Founded in 1782 under the personal patronage of its namesake, Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland, upholds a tradition of excellence and innovation in the liberal arts. The American Pictures series is a project of the college’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and its Department of Art and Art History.

The National Portrait Gallery tells the stories of America through the individuals—poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists—who have built our national culture. It is where the arts keep us in the company of remarkable Americans.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum, the nation’s first collection of American art, is an unparalleled record of the American experience. The collection captures the aspirations, character and imagination of the American people from the colonial period to today.

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