R. Crumb’s Top 10 Most Expensive Works at Auction
His 'Art & Beauty' series is on view at David Zwirner in London.
As Robert Crumb’s inaugural exhibition of drawings from his Art & Beauty series opens at David Zwirner’s London gallery this weekend, we take a closer look at the celebrated illustrator’s market, examining how he moved from the realm of comic books to the walls of a blue-chip institution.
In 1962, Crumb began working at American Greetings Corporation in Cleveland, where he designed family-friendly cards. Six years later, he launched Zap Comix in San Francisco. From then on, Crumb rose to prominence in the cartoon and punk worlds with comic strips like Fritz the Cat, Mr. Natural, and Keep on Truckin’.
He was also a source of controversy in 1969, when bookstores were busted for selling Zap Comix #4, which contained a parody of the nuclear family, featuring incest. “Fear was a weapon the bastards used very effectively,” Crumb says in an interview about censorship during that era.
In the years to come, his use of eroticism, humor, cultural stereotypes, and depictions of celebrities and pop culture icons catapulted the illustrator to new heights.
Crumb’s works appeared at auction as early as 1999, but it wasn’t until his solo exhibition at London’s Whitechapel Gallery in 2005 that the artist gained mainstream recognition.
Here’s a look at Crumb’s top 10 performing lots at auction:
1. Zap Comix #0 Complete 3-Page Story “Ducks Yas Yas” Original Art (three items) (1968) sold for $131,450 at Heritage Auctions Texas on August 9, 2014.
2. Zap Comix #0 Complete 5-Page Story “City of the Future” Original Art (five items) (1968) sold for $101,575 at Heritage Auctions, Texas on August 1, 2013.
3. Mr. Natural #1 Cover Original Art (1970) sold for $101,575 at Heritage Auctions, Texas on November 17, 2007.
4. Carload O’ Comics Cover and Title Page (1976) sold for $95,600 at Heritage Auctions, Texas on August 9, 2014.
5. Zap Comix #3 “Street Corner Daze” 2-page Story Original Art (1968) sold for $95,600 at Heritage Auctions, New York on May 6, 2011.
6. Big Ass Comics #1 “All Meat Comics” Page 1 Original Art (1969) sold for $77,675 at Heritage Auctions Texas on August 7, 2008.
7. Abstract expressionist ultra super modernist comics (3 works) (1967) sold for $72,000 at Bonhams & Butterfields on May 22, 2007.
8. Mr Natural (7 works) (1971) sold for $72,000 at Bonhams & Butterfields on May 22, 2007.
9. Zap Comics #8 Cover Original Art (1975-76) sold for $71,700 at Heritage Auctions Texas on May 11, 2012.
10. Hup #3 Cover Original Art (1989) sold for $68,712 at Heritage Auctions Texas on May 22, 2008.
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