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Past Exhibition Heroes & Villains: The Comic Book Art of Alex Ross

October 1, 2011–January 8, 2012

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Alex Ross, Mythology: Superman, 2005. Collection of the Artist. SUPERMAN, ®, ™, and © DC Comics.Homepage banner: Alex Ross, JLA: The Original Seven, 2000. Collection of the Artist. ®, ™, and © DC Comics.

This exhibition is sponsored by:

DC Comics
The Pittsburgh CW
BRGR Pittsburgh
The Art Institute of Pittsburgh
Point Park University 
Smith Micro

Considered one of the greatest artists in the field of comic books, Alex Ross has revitalized classic superheroes into works of fine art with his brilliant use of watercolor.  Just as Andy Warhol elevated soup can labels into multi-million dollar artworks, Ross has transformed comic books.  By building on the foundation of the great artists who came before him — Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Romita, Neal Adams, George Perez, and others — Ross’ paintings have revolutionized the comic book industry and transcended the newsstand origins of his profession.

At just three years of age, Ross was drawing TV commercials from memory.  By the age of 13 he was scripting and drawing original comic books.  Ten years later, Ross was hired by Marvel Comics to illustrate Marvel’s central characters in the comic book event, Marvels (1994).  His impact on the comic book industry became so powerful that his hugely successful comic book series, Kingdom Come (1996), marks the close of the “Dark Age” of comic books, in which pessimism, violence, and gritty stories ruled, into the birth of the “Modern Age” of optimism and strong superheroes.  Ross would go on to win the Comic Buyer’s Guide Award for Favorite Painter so many times the award was retired.

Paintings and sketches from his early career from projects like Marvels and Kingdom Come will be included, as well as works from more recent projects, such as Justice, Flash Gordon, and Green Hornet.

Showcasing the heavy influence of American illustration and Pop Art on Alex Ross, works by Andy Warhol, Norman Rockwell, Andrew Loomis, and JC Leyendecker will be included.  Many of Lynette Ross’ artworks will be on display as well.  Also on view will be Myths prints created by Warhol, featuring many of the subjects of Alex Ross paintings – Superman, Uncle Sam, and the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz.  Since Warhol was a huge comic book fan, we will also have a selection of comic books and related paraphernalia collected by Warhol throughout his life.

This exhibition will be the first museum exhibition of Ross’ work and will comprise 5,500 square feet of gallery space.  Ross has graciously offered to prepare an original artwork for The Warhol to promote this premier, which will be available to the public in poster form exclusively at The Warhol Store.  Ross will also be on hand for the opening celebration on October 1, 2011.  In addition, Warhol’s uncompleted film Batman/Dracula (1964), which has not been exhibited since 1964, will be screened in the exhibition.

This exhibition has been curated by Jesse Kowalski, Director of Exhibitions at The Andy Warhol Museum.