For Immediate Release

The Art of Rube Goldberg Arrives at GRAM

Exhibition celebrates one of 20th century America’s most wildly talented innovators

GRAND RAPIDS, MI, May 1, 2017 — The Grand Rapids Art Museum (GRAM) is pleased to announce The Art of Rube Goldberg, an exhibition that celebrates the groundbreaking artwork of one of the most influential cartoon illustrators of the twentieth century. The exhibition will be on view at GRAM from May 20 through August 27, 2017.

Marking the first comprehensive retrospective exhibition of Goldberg’s work since 1970, The Art of Rube Goldberg chronicles all aspects of the artist’s seventy-two-year career, from his earliest published drawings and iconic inventions to his Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoons and beyond. Bringing together never-before-exhibited original works of art, preparatory drawings, video, and related ephemera, this exhibition offers visitors an unprecedented opportunity to witness the development of Goldberg’s artwork and trace his rise to prominence.

The Grand Rapids Art Museum celebrates creativity in its wide range of forms,” commented GRAM’s Director and CEO, Dana Friis-Hansen. We’re excited to present this delightful mixed media exhibition at GRAM, which explores the whimsical world of Rube Goldberg and others who have been influenced by his work nearly a century later.”

The exhibition begins with a look at Goldberg’s innovative early work, with original drawings that reveal the beginnings of his comic style, then follows his steady rise to fame as a nationally syndicated presence in the 1920s and 1930s. The influence of vaudeville and early film on Goldberg’s comic imagination is explored, and his satirical takes on fashion, sports, politics, gender roles, and other aspects of modern life are showcased and celebrated. Rare family photographs and early films provide period detail and essential context.

The Art of Rube Goldberg prominently features Goldberg’s crowning artistic achievement: his invention drawings. Highlighting their unique burlesque of our modern age of invention, this section explores how Goldberg’s zany contraptions caught the popular imagination and became — as he put it — a symbol of man’s capacity for exerting maximum effort to achieve minimal results,” while making him a cultural icon. The influence of Goldberg’s invention drawings will be explored in a video interview with Pop Culture Historian, Paul Tumey, which features clips from the many Hollywood films inspired by these drawings.

Rube Goldberg’s Invention Drawings combine great illustration, physical comedy, and empathy for people’s exasperation with technology,” stated GRAM’s Chief Curator, Ron Platt. They are as fresh and relevant today as they were when he drew them.”

The exhibition concludes with a vivid survey of Goldberg’s output during his final decades and with a celebration of his lasting influence on popular culture. A selection of his late-in-life political cartoons traces the remarkable coda of his long career, while his enduring popularity is underscored by such items as the 1995 Rube Goldberg U.S. Postage stamp. Enhancing the exhibition is Peter Fischli and David Weiss’ 30-minute video, The Way Things Go (1986 – 1987), in which objects such as tires, saws, ladders, and buckets are animated by physics: water, fire, gas, and gravity propelled these objects to collide and react in a chain of events.

The Art of Rube Goldberg offers visitors an intimate look into the life and legacy of one of the keenest and wittiest observers of modern times, whose name has entered the cultural lexicon and whose influence continues to reverberate into the twenty-first century.

A unique addition to GRAM’s presentation of The Art of Rube Goldberg, the Museum has partnered with the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District (OAISD) and Grand Haven Public Schools to showcase the work of students inspired by Rube Goldberg. Museum visitors are invited to interact with Rube Goldberg machines designed and built by these intrepid young inventors throughout the duration of the exhibition.

Complementing The Art of Rube Goldberg, GRAM members and the public can enjoy several events and related programming, including the Member Preview Party, Drop-in Tours, and a lecture with Creighton Michael, who conceived the concept for the exhibition.

Related Events

Member Preview Party:
The Art of Rube Goldberg Friday, May 19, 20177 – 9 pmFree, members onlyMembers are invited to join GRAM for the opening of The Art of Rube Goldberg, celebrating the 72-year career of the cartoonist, humorist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor. Enjoy complimentary hors d’oeuvres, live entertainment, and a cash bar.

Rube Goldberg: Hand and Mind
Lecture with Creighton Michael
Thursday, June 8, 2017
7 – 8 pm
Join us for a special evening with Creighton Michael — the mind behind the concept of The Art of Rube Goldberg.

The Art of Rube Goldberg was conceived by Creighton Michael, developed in cooperation with Heirs of Rube Goldberg, LLC, NY, NY, and curated by Max Weintraub. This tour was organized by International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC.

Support for The Art of Rube Goldberg is generously provided by Wege Foundation, Herman Miller Cares, James and Mary Nelson, Dirk Hoffius, and Greg and Meg Willit. Additional funding is provided by the GRAM Exhibition Society.

About the Grand Rapids Art Museum
Connecting people through art, creativity, and design. Established in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, the Art Museum is internationally known for its distinguished design and LEED® Gold certified status. Established in 1910 as the Grand Rapids Art Association, GRAM has grown to include more than 5,000 works of art, including American and European 19th and 20th century painting and sculpture and more than 3,000 works on paper. Embracing the city’s legacy as a leading center of design and manufacturing, GRAM has a growing collection in the area of design and modern craft.

About International Arts & Artists
International Arts & Artists in Washington, DC, is a non-profit arts service organization dedicated to increasing cross-cultural understanding and exposure to the arts internationally through exhibitions, programs, and services to artists, arts institutions and the public. Visit

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