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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Denys Wortman at the Museum of the City of New York

By now, you've heard at least something about our Denys Wortman project--Denys Wortman's New York. In brief, James Sturm uncovered thousands of drawings in a shed on Martha's Vineyard by a long forgotten ash-can artist and daily newspaper strip artist. Comprised almost entirely of single-panel gag format strips about New York City drawn in a gorgeous loosely detailed grease-pencil style. In history's inevitable paring down of key players, Denys Wortman had all but disappeared. A man who was close friends with Ernie Bushmiller and Milt Gross (oh, and Peggy Bacon, Thomas Hart Benton, and Reginald Marsh) slipped from view after his death. Fortunately, Sturm's research efforts found a real gem.

After extensive sorting and compiling the drawings by theme, Sturm and co-editor Brandon Elston selected their favorite pieces and created a kind of walk through an average day in New York City. It's an ingenious idea that prevents the book from just being drawing after drawing. They impose a narrative thread that anchors these amazing works.

Our book does a good job of capturing these amazing drawings in print but of course there is no substitute for the real-live-in-person-yellowed-paper drawing. A bit larger than as printed, these things are gorgeous to behold. Well, guess what, if you're in NYC you can see these drawings in person at The Museum of the City of New York in a special exhibition that opens tomorrow night at 6pm. The deets are below:


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