Queens Museum is pleased to announce The Art of Rube Goldberg, the first comprehensive retrospective exhibition since 1970 to celebrate the groundbreaking artwork of one of the most influential cartoon illustrators of the twentieth century. The exhibition spans from Goldberg’s earliest published drawings and iconic inventions to his Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoons that covered topics ranging from government austerity measures to the continual struggle for peace between Jews and Arabs.
Chronicling all aspects of the artist’s 72-year career, The Art of Rube Goldberg offers visitors an unprecedented opportunity to witness the development of Goldberg’s artwork and trace his rise to prominence. Bringing together never-before-exhibited original works of art, preparatory drawings, video, and related ephemera, the retrospective begins with a look at Goldberg’s innovative early work, with original drawings that reveal the beginnings of his comic style; then follows his steady rise to fame as a nationally syndicated presence in the 1920s and 1930s. The exhibition also prominently features Goldberg’s crowning artistic achievement: his invention drawings. Highlighting their unique burlesque of our modern age of invention, this section explores how Goldberg’s zany contraptions caught the popular imagination and became—as he put it—“a symbol of man’s capacity for exerting maximum effort to achieve minimal results,” while making him a cultural icon. The exhibition concludes with a vivid survey of Goldberg’s output during his final decades and with a celebration of his lasting influence on popular culture. At QM, the survey is accompanied by a newly commissioned, viewer-operated multimedia machine, inspired by Goldberg’s invention drawings.