Chris Ware — Paper Life

© chris ware

Cartoonmuseum Basel
Until October 29

The retrospective “Chris Ware—Paper Life” was developed in close collaboration with the artist himself, who is currently the United States’ most significant comics author and cartoonist, and shows the full richness of his oeuvre. Born in 1967 as Franklin Christenson Ware in Omaha, Nebraska, he published very early in the avant-garde magazine “RAW,” which was edited by Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly. In the early 1990s, he launched his “Acme Novelty” series, in which he established his most important characters. Ware draws with perfectionist meticulousness and technical precision. In terms of both narrative and form, his books are all-encompassing artworks in which he is responsible for everything from the typography to the binding.

This exhibition demonstrates how, via exploratory preliminary sketches, he arrives at his carefully composed sequences of images that are reminiscent of construction drawings. From a wide variety of perspectives and within a concentrated density, the reader finds out about human inadequacies, communication difficulties, and disappointments. The elaborately produced set of comics “Building Stories” from the year 2012 is particularly impressive. This is a collection of 14 books, in very different formats, that have no predetermined order. Alongside his major graphic novels, such as “Jimmy Corrigan” (2000) and “Rusty Brown” (2019), Ware works for the press, particularly, “The New Yorker,” and has conceived animations based on his characters Quimby the Mouse and Rusty Brown.

The retrospective presents not only original works by this exceptional artist who was awarded the Grand Prix at the 2021 Angoulême International Comics Festival, but also objects, such as models and puppets, that complement his stories in the third dimension.