The Art of Rube Goldberg

Exhibition Website

Oct 6 2019 - Feb 9 2020

Queens Museum

New York City, NY

The Art of Rube Goldberg is 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.

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. ​

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website

Whether or not you go, the companion book, The Art of Rube Goldberg: (A) Inventive (B) Cartoon (C) Genius, celebrates all aspects of the author's grandfather’s career, from his very first published drawings in his high school newspaper and college yearbook to his iconic inventions, his comic strips and advertising work, and his later sculpture and Pulitzer Prize–winning political cartoons. Also included are essays by noted comics historians, rare photographs, letters, memorabilia, and patents, many reproduced here for the first time. Brilliantly designed and packaged to capture the inventiveness of Rube Goldberg’s work, this is a coffee table book the whole family can enjoy.

Select The Art of Rube Goldberg: (A) Inventive (B) Cartoon (C) Genius to learn more, or to place this book in your Amazon shopping cart. Your Amazon purchase through this link generates a small commission that will help to fund the ArtGeek.art search engine.​

    Exhibition Venues & Dates