Victor Navasky in Conversation at Spencertown Academy

Victor Navasky

Victor Navasky

(SPENCERTOWN, N.Y.) – Renowned author and editor Victor S. Navasky will be interviewed by equally renowned author Peter Biskind at Spencertown Academy Arts Center on Saturday, April 27, 2013, at 4pm, as part of the center’s Community Conversations series. Navasky, a longtime Hillsdale weekender, will discuss his career and his new book, The Art of Controversy: Political Cartoons and Their Enduring Power (Knopf, 2013), a lavishly illustrated, witty, and original look at the awesome power of the political cartoon throughout. A reception and book signing will follow the talk.

Tickets are $15 (reservations recommended); call 518-392-3693.

As a former editor of the New York Times Magazine and the longtime editor of the Nation, Navasky knows just how transformative — and incendiary — cartoons can be. Here he guides readers through some of the greatest cartoons ever created, including those by George Grosz, David Levine, Herblock, Honoré Daumier, and Ralph Steadman.  He recounts how cartoonists and caricaturists have been censored, threatened, incarcerated, and even murdered for their art, and asks what makes this art form, too often dismissed as trivial, so uniquely poised to affect our minds and our hearts.

Drawing on his own encounters with would-be censors, interviews with cartoonists, and historical archives from cartoon museums across the globe, Navasky examines the political cartoon as both art and polemic over the centuries. We see afresh images most celebrated for their artistic merit (Picasso’s Guernica, Goya’s Duendecitos), images that provoked outrage (the 2008 Barry Blitt New Yorker cover, which depicted the Obamas as a Muslim and a Black Power militant fist-bumping in the Oval Office), and those that have dictated public discourse (Herblock’s defining portraits of McCarthyism, the Nazi periodical Der Stürmer’s anti-Semitic caricatures). Navasky ties together these and other superlative genre examples to reveal how political cartoons have been not only capturing the zeitgeist throughout history but shaping it as well — and how the most powerful cartoons retain the ability to shock, gall, and inspire long after their creation.

Navasky is the author of Naming Names, which won a 1982 National Book Award, and A Matter of Opinion, which won the George Polk Book Award. He teaches at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he is the director of the Delacorte Center for Magazine Journalism and chair of the Columbia Journalism Review. He lives in New York.

Spencertown resident Peter Biskind is a cultural critic and film historian. He was the editor-in-chief of American Film magazine from 1981 to 1986, and the executive editor of Premiere from 1986 to 1996. His writing has appeared in scores of national publications, including Rolling Stone, Paris Match, the Nation, the New York Times, the Times of London, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as film journals such as Sight and Sound and Film Quarterly. He is now a contributing editor for Vanity Fair.

Biskind has published six books: Seeing Is Believing: How Hollywood taught us to stop worrying and love the fifties (1983); The Godfather Companion (1990); Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll generation saved Hollywood (1998); Down and Dirty Pictures: Miramax, Sundance, and the rise of independent film (1998); Gods and Monsters: Thirty years of writing on film and culture from one of America’s most incisive writers (2004); and Star: How Warren Beatty seduced America (2010). Easy Riders, Raging Bulls was the basis of a documentary film of the same name. His books have been translated into more than thirty languages.

Spencertown Academy Arts Center’s Community Conversations is an occasional series designed to spark neighbor-to-neighbor conversations and celebrate the richness and diversity of the Columbia County community. Housed in a restored 1840s Greek Revival schoolhouse, Spencertown Academy Arts Center is located at 790 State Route 203 in Spencertown, N.Y.


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