The Mind of and Artist: Kurt Vonnegut’s Drawings

KVD Page25 Self-Portrait

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Kurt Vonnegut is known for his satirical novels. Most are unaware this famed writer is an equally talented artist who first published his humorous graphic art in novels “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “Breakfast of Champions.” His drawings are now bound in the book “Kurt Vonnegut: Drawings,” which features an introduction by his daughter, who is also a writer and author, Nanette Vonnegut.

The Margo Feiden Galleries held a special exhibition of Vonnegut drawings during a book signing reception with Nanette on May 14. Housed in a Stanford White Townhouse in Greenwich Village, this salon-style gallery is the perfect setting for the NYC literati to enjoy this esteemed, witty artist.

Like his prose, Vonnegut’s drawings are whimsical mazes. His minimalist style is light and open; his still life and self-portrait compositions expand from single, winding lines. The runaway line that overpowers his undulating forms becomes a close metaphor for his labyrinthine novels. Simultaneously funny and serious, Vonnegut’s drawings are formal investigations into the mind of a great writer and beloved American thinker.

At the opening, Nanette answered a few questions about her father’s work:

What is your favorite drawing by your father, and why?

My favorite is the self-portrait (page 25). It is one continuous line that includes so much — a window with a blue flower in it, buttons on his shirt and his signature. I love it because it looks exactly like him and because it is beautifully integrated as a piece of art. I can tell he had a lot of fun with that one.

Why do you think your father’s legacy holds strong to today?

My father has such holding power on so many because he speaks timeless truths about who we are as human beings, our failings as well as our potential for good. While doing all that, he manages to make us laugh out loud in recognition. … That is his enduring genius.

Does your father influence your own art and writing?

I am always surprised to see his voice show up in my writing and in my art. So much of him is in my bones whether I like it or not. I think in trying to find my own voice, I have finally allowed his to be there as a low hum, weaving its way in and out of whatever I do. I have to tell stories even in making pictures.

What inspires you the most?

What inspires me as an artist is exactly what my father pulled off as well as a comedian, like Louis CK: delivering truth in a most original way and making me laugh till I cry.

If you go

‘Kurt Vonnegut: Drawings’
End date TBD
Margo Feiden Galleries
15 E. Ninth St
Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.


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