Charles Addams (1912-1988) Phantom Shadow 26 x 22 in. © Charles Addams, With permission Tee and Charles Addams Foundation

Charles Addams (1912-1988) ©Charles Addams, With permission Tee and Charles Addams Foundation

Charles Addams (1912-1988) Subway Hand 30 x 26 in. ©Charles Addams, With permission Tee and Charles Addams Foundation

Charles Addams (1912-1988) Blindfolded Turkey 26 x 22 in. ©Charles Addams, With permission Tee and Charles Addams Foundation

Charles Addams: Cartoonist

October 3, 2009 - January 24, 2010

Approximately 40 framed, original cartoon artworks of Charles Addams, the beloved cartoonist of The New Yorker and creator of the characters known as the “The Addams Family” are on view in this exhibition organized for the Bruce Museum by the Tee and Charles Addams Foundation. The show provides a sampling of the creative wit and sometimes macabre but always lovable humor of Addams’ oeuvre. The show is supported by Anne and Fred Elser, the Elizabeth Elser Doolittle Charitable Trusts, Mel Seiden, and the Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund.

Charles Addams (1912-1988) had a happy childhood in suburban Westfield, New Jersey. But his curiosity sometimes drew him to a nearby graveyard and the hauntingly handsome and occasionally deserted Victorian homes in the neighborhood, one of which later became the model for the Addams' family home. After a few attempts at higher education at Colgate University, University of Pennsylvania, and the Grand Central School of Art in New York City, he signed on as a regular cartoonist for The New Yorker in 1935.

Addams developed a sophisticated style of humor, turning clichés on their heads by twisting preconceived definitions and putting them in a contemporary light.

Of the several thousand works produced by Addams in his lifetime, nearly 1500 were published in The New Yorker, as well as on the pages of newspapers within the McClure Syndicate, Collier’s, Holiday, TV Guide and numerous other publications. Some of his most popular characters were even spun off into a popular television series The Addams Family. His books of collected cartoons were best sellers.

The exhibition at the Bruce Museum features Addams’ original, large drawings focusing on several themes: The Addams Family, At Work, Holidays, New York City, Relationships, and No Explanation Necessary. The show also includes DVD excerpts from the original 1964-66 television series The Addams Family, based on the characters that Addams created: Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Cousin Itt, and the rest of the gang.

Exhibitions of Charles Addams’s work have been mounted at the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, MA, the Rhode Island School of Design, The New York Public Library, and the Museum of the City of New York. He was honored with the Yale Humor Award (1954) and a special award from the Mystery Writers of America. In his spare time he enjoyed collecting vintage automobiles and, ironically, died behind the wheel in 1988.

The not-for-profit Tee and Charles Addams Foundation was established in 1999 by Tee Addams (1926-2002), widow of Charles Addams. Located on the couple’s property and nature sanctuary in Sagaponack, New York, the Foundation includes Charles Addams’ last studio within the home they shared. The Foundation’s interprets and shares the artistic achievements of Charles Addams’ life through exhibitions and programs developed from his work.

The exhibition Charles Addams: Cartoonist is on view in the Bantle Lecture Gallery.

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