Pretentious is pretty much Art Spiegelmanâ€™s M.O. His work is about giving comic books some high culture airs. And at a time when most intellectuals are embarrassed to admit to even a vestige of old-fashioned hardnosed cultural discernment, what Spiegelman wants, Spiegelman gets. When he did a simplistic black-on-black cover for The New Yorker in the wake of 9/11, he was saluted as if this were the second coming of Kazimir Malevich and Ad Reinhardt. And when he turned his fatherâ€™s memories of the Holocaust into Maus, that two-volume comic book, people imagined Spiegelman had done Primo Levi one better, making tragedy hip. The very first wall text at the Jewish Museum informs you that Spiegelman “has torn down the barriers that until recently separated high culture from low.” What on earth is a legitimate museum doing promoting such a ridiculous claim? Hasnâ€™t anybody at the Jewish Museum noticed that those barriers were shaken if not torn down more or less a century ago, by Picasso, Braque, LÃ©ger, Schwitters, Picabia, and Duchamp?
Other quotes from Jed Perl.