Koren’s Capricious And Compelling Voice
by Kristin Nord
In this era of incivility there is something wonderfully touching about the inquiries of Edward Koren’s often clueless hairy creatures. Whether they are urbanites transposed to the rural outposts of Vermont, or are among the artist’s many loony flights of anthropomorphism, the challenges and aspirations of flora or fauna are often interchangeable.
Edward Koren himself describes his cartoons as “frozen moments of storytelling” and his work as that of a cultural anthropologist. The renowned New Yorker cartoonist drew a full house recently at Fairfield University’s Bellarmine Museum of Art for a talk preceding the unveiling of “The Capricious Line,” his traveling retrospective. The show, which runs through April 8, features 49 of the artist’s works created between 1965 and 2010. Taken together, they offer running commentary on the state of the environment and the human condition; they often appear to be at a crossroads.
Surveying this show gives the viewer the chance to appreciate just how seamlessly he integrates his thoughts with his images.
There are many great cartoons here, whether it is the woodcutter taking on the lone ancient tree remaining in a clear-cut woodlot, or the imagined artists fielding predictable questions and comments about his work that one imagines Koren has encountered far too many times in his career. There is the mother covered in tattoos, explaining to her child that they are the result of impetuous decisions she made as a youth, and there are any number of Koren’s flatlanders attempting to interact with rural natives — and failing.