“Buy the ticket, take the ride.” – Hunter S. Thompson

Celebrating the career of one of Britain’s most important graphic artists of the last 50 years, the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center will feature “Ralph Steadman: A Retrospective,” a collection of more than 100 original art works that will take viewers on a journey through the artist’s wide-ranging career, from sketches created in the 1950s, to book illustrations, to present-day work. The show at American University Museum is currently the only museum exhibition on the East Coast and the first museum stop in a United States tour. A previously unknown piece of work, one in a series of works Steadman created about the 1974 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, was recently discovered this spring as part of a private collection. It now will be included in the retrospective alongside two other art works from the series. “Ralph Steadman: A Retrospective” will be open June 16 and run through Aug. 12, 2018.

Steadman is famous for his long collaboration with the writer Hunter S. Thompson, most notably providing the illustrations for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971), and helping to create what has since become known as ‘Gonzo’ journalism. Steadman has attained a cult status and has influenced many graphic and comic artists. His art has won him an international reputation for which he’s received numerous awards.  His own illustrated books have been translated into several languages and his work has been exhibited around the world.

The exhibition explores the full range of the artist’s work, including his earliest published cartoon from 1956, material from Private Eye, Punch, the Observer, the New Statesman and Rolling Stone, and illustrations he provided for literary classics such as George Orwell’s Animal Farm. There are atmospheric wine drawings produced for Oddbins catalogues, humanitarian pictures, savage political cartoons and some of his charming and funny illustrations for children’s books. The show also includes examples of the extinct birds and imaginary ‘boids’ which he created for Extinct Boids, art work inspired by the television-cable series Breaking Bad and images from Steadman’s most recent book, Critical Critters. The exhibition is accompanied by a 160-page, full-color catalogue that includes forewords by actor Johnny Depp, journalist and critic Carlo McCormick and artist Anita Kunz.

“Ralph Steadman: A Retrospective” first went on display in The Cartoon Museum in central London and was curated by Anita O’Brien and Chris Miles. Ralph Steadman Art Collection acknowledges and thanks exhibition sponsors and partners Audible and CEO Don Katz; Jim Caruso, CEO, Flying Dog; and United Therapeutics. Audible has also created a unique audio tour to accompany the exhibit, which will be available via app download.

MUSEUM INFORMATION, HOURS, LOCATION: The American University Museum is a three-story public museum and sculpture garden located within the university’s Katzen Arts Center. The region’s largest university facility for exhibiting art, the museum has a permanent collection that highlights the donors’ holdings and AU’s Watkins Collection and Rothfeld Collection. Rotating exhibitions emphasize regional, national, and international contemporary art.

The Katzen Arts Center, named for Washington-area benefactors Dr. and Mrs. Cyrus Katzen, brings all the visual and performing arts programs at AU into one space. Designed to foster interdisciplinary collaboration in the arts, the Katzen includes the museum, the Abramson Family Recital Hall, the Studio Theatre, a dance studio, an electronics studio, artists’ studios, rehearsal space, and classrooms.

The American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is free. For more information, call 202-885-1300 or look on the Web at www.american.edu/cas/museum. Follow the museum on Facebook, on Twitter (@AUMuseum_Katzen), or on Instagram (AUMuseum_Katzen).  

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