Exhibitions - The Art of Rube Goldberg

Rube Goldberg
The Art of Rube Goldberg

10.06.19 – 02.09.20

A United States Postal Service Stamp with a cartoon image. The image is of a man sitting at brown dinning table against a yellow backdrop. At the table is a soup bowl, silverware, and a glass of red wine. The man is wearing a black suit jacket with a blue vest. Placed on his head is a contraption with 14 steps. Starting with him pulling a spoon that prompts a domino effect ending with a duster fanning his spoonful of soup to cool it down.

Image: Rube Goldberg, Rube Goldberg Inventions United States Postal Service Stamp (included on sheet of “Comic Classics” stamps), date unknown. Sheet of USPS stamps. Artwork Copyright © Rube Goldberg Inc. All Rights Reserved. RUBE GOLDBERG ® is a registered trademark of Rube Goldberg Inc. All materials used with permission. www.rubegoldberg.com

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.


Spanish description from Queens Museum visitor guide:


El arte de Rube Goldberg, 6 de oct–9 de feb


El arte de Rube Goldberg celebra la obra de uno de los caricaturistas más influyentes del siglo XX. La exposición, que registra todos los aspectos de la carrera de 72 años de duración de Goldberg, desde sus primeras caricaturas publicadas a sus dibujos de invenciones, ofrece una oportunidad sin precedentes para conocer su desarrollo artístico.


The content of The Art of Rube Goldberg is based on the book of the same title, published by Abrams ComicArts, and includes over 75 original drawings and sketches, video stations screening Goldberg’s films and taped interviews, as well as photographs, books, magazines, and other materials. The companion book, The Art of Rube Goldberg, accompanies the exhibition.


The Art of Rube Goldberg was conceived by Creighton Michael; developed in cooperation with Heirs of Rube Goldberg, LLC, NY, NY; and curated by Max Weintraub.


These partners have been collaborating with International Arts & Artists on a national tour that began February 10, 2017, at the Museum of Pop Culture, Seattle, Washington. The exhibition has traveled to the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan (May 21, 2017 – August 27, 2017); the Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco, California (March 15, 2018 – July 8, 2018); the Portland Public Library, Portland, Maine (August 3, 2018 – September 22, 2018); the National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (October 12, 2018 – January 21, 2019).


Tour organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.


The Rube Goldberg organization consists of two different companies: RGI (Rube Goldberg, Inc.), a 501(c)3 not-for-profit; and HRG (Heirs of Rube Goldberg), the for-profit arm. Both RGI and HRG work together to maximize the full potential of Rube Goldberg’s life’s work—a rich archive, 50,000 drawings deep—as a funding source to help endow its not-for-profit STEM and STEAM Education Initiatives.


International Arts & Artists in Washington, DC, is a non-profit arts service organization dedicated to increasing cross-cultural understanding and exposure to the arts internationally, through exhibitions, programs, and services to artists, arts institutions and the public. www.artsandartists.org.


Major funding for the Queens Museum is generously provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, the Lambent Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation. The official hotel sponsor of the Queens Museum is Boro New York.