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A Conversation with Edward Koren

“We deal with it by talking about it”

The Sandor Ferenczi Center at the New School recently had the pleasure of having longtime New Yorker cartoonist Edward Koren discuss his craft as part of its Arts in Mind series. The title of the event, “We deal with it by talking about it,” was derived from a well known New Yorker cartoon of Koren’s.

The evening was moderated by essayist and author, Joshua Shenk and psychologist, Jeremy Safran. Koren was interviewed by Richard Gehr, author of I Only Read It for the Cartoons: The New Yorker’s Most Brilliantly Twisted Artists. The interview revolved around a slide show of cartoons by Ed Koren, as well as other cartoonists including James Thurber and Charles Addams.

Many of Koren’s cartoons draw attention to the various forms of hypocrisy and self-deception that pervade our social milieu. They do so with Koren’s idiomatic sensibility and light touch. Koren likened his craft to that of a storyteller’s, or an amateur sociologist, and characterized his art as belonging to a tradition of social commentary that can be traced back to the visual satire of French nineteenth-century caricaturists such as Daumier, Grandville, Gavarni, Sem, and Gustav Dor.

In this context he spoke about the role of Charlie Hebdo in the tradition of French satire. Over the course of the evening, he spoke about his fifty years of experience creating cartoons for the New Yorker. He also answered questions raised by Gehr and members of the audience about the sources of his own inspiration, his experience of the nature of the creative process, and about the roles that disappointment, anger and the experience of being an outsider, play in his work.

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Lily Swistel

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