Karl Wirsum

Click, 1971

American, 1939

As a child Karl Wirsum poured over comic books and wanted to become a cartoonist when he grew up. There is no doubt that his love of comic books and fascination with the ephemera of popular culture i.e. mass produced toys, objects from the carnival, circus and cartoon worlds have developed his aesthetic. Moreover his explorations of the visual forms produced by diverse cultures: Mayan and Aztec paintings and sculpture; Persian calligraphy; Native American art have further stimulated his visual sense. Humor, verbal puns and the blues have each fueled his unique creativity. In Click Wirsum portrays a symmetrical, frontally viewed figure, that he considers to have an iconic timeless presence, with an aura of impermanence. She is poised in mid-air with her vibrating, gyrating shape rendered in a flat, highly patterned, starkly outlined style that suggests a direct reference to the world of comics. The word ‘click’ composed of written characters that appear to be charged with electricity is framed by the figure’s lower anatomy and by her precisely painted tiny black high- heeled tap shoes. According to the artist this painting was inspired by the 1968 animated and live-action film spoof “Tappy Toes” . The film, created by artist Red Grooms starred Wirsum’s wife Lorri Gunn in the role of a would-be actress about to get her big break. Even the exaggerated double pony- tail hair-do in “Click” is a reference to his wife Lorri.

Purchased in 1971 with federal grant money specified for College’s newly completed A.C. Buehler Library