Greg Beato on Turning Comic Books Into Art


In early 1990s issues of his comic book Eightball, Daniel Clowes regularly savaged the pretensions and hypocrisies of high art. In his estimation, art school was a scam where washed-up hacks dispensed expensive affirmation to lazy and inept strivers. Art critics were boobs and blowhards. Galleries and museums rewarded hype, novelty, and speculation over craftsmanship and authentic expression. The world of high art, Clowes suggested in multiple stories, was silly, shallow, venal, and blind to actual talent. Nearly 20 years later, the world of high art finally got its revenge—by giving Clowes a museum show of his own. Greg Beato reviews both the show and Clowes' pioneering career as a comics creator.