Friday, May 06, 2011

Who is Jan Faust?


Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons


A friend of mine purchased The Underground Sketchbook of Jan Faust (1971) at a used book sale last month, and since neither of us have been able to find out much about him online, we decided to scan some pages for the enjoyment of certain of my readers as well as to add his drawings to the electronic ether. A few of the images -- in their style, obsessions, and general view of things -- are reminiscent of B. Kliban.

Here's what the back cover has to say (see the comments section to read the publisher's preface):

"The pages of The Nation, New York magazine, National Review and The New York Times have recently been enlivened by the drawings of a new talent who reproduces reality with all the meticulous draftsmanship of the old-world engravers -- only to shatter it irretrievably with the most outrageous whimsy and stygian humor. But the artist, Jan Faust, has also done 101 other drawings that could never appear in the public pages of these journals because in them he has allowed his imagination, his comedic satire, his "underground" feelings about our society and its people, to express themselves to the fullest in unconventionality. It is these 101 drawings, never before published, that comprise this sketchbook. [...] Jan Faust has something to say about our lives and our civilization, and no one has ever said it quite the way he does."

Enjoy!

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Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons

Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons


Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons

Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons

Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons

Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons
(This one makes me think of Kliban's "The Victim's Family")

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Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons

Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons

Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons

Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons

Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons

Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons

Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons

Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons

Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons

Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons

* * *

Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons

Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons

Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons

Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons

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Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons

Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons, jerry rubin
(I dub this one Jerry Rubin)

Jan Faust, drawings, the underground sketchbook, cartoons


3 comments:

Tyler said...

"These one hundred and one drawings, in which social commentary is cast in the form of the ghoulish burlesque, represent the cream of Jan Faust's work to date. In bold pen technique akin to that of Reginald Marsh, Mr. Faust is working today in the time-honored tradition of such older masters as Gillray, Goya, Daumier, Grandville, Kley and Grosz. In their arresting and compelling visions, barbed as they are with macabre or whimsical humor, these artists have always touched the sore spots of society and recorded the secret anxieties of their age more surely and poisonously than the grandiose or intellectualized work of their contemporaries.

It is a strange world, this of Mr. Faust's, but it is unmistakably ours. In these days of supermachines, antimatter and multidimensionality, is it any wonder that his animate beings turn into mechanisms, while his manufactured gadgets sprout living parts? Or that his creatures undergo a constant uneasy shifting between man and animal, between person and garment? What is more representative of our age than these false fronts and deceptive facades, this irruption of the unexpected and unnerving into such hallowed domains of rationality and smugness as the breakfast table and the nursery, where odd transformations beset the doll, the teddy bear and Daisy Duck? The note of protest could hardly be absent from a collection like this, but the anti-military and anti-pollution outcries included here are themselves tinged with this artist's particular madness.

Surely Mr. Faust's overriding preoccupation, as he examines our sex-obsessed society, is with the flesh -- erogenous, erupting, melting, de- and re-composing. We find eerily wandering anatomical parts (like Shelley's vision of eyes in women's breasts); a serpent burrowing through a ravaged face (strongly reminiscent of Gillray's gout demon); a proliferation of genitals and mammaries; intercourse in the shadow of the tomb.

Yet these are not grim or depressing pictures. This namesake and modern avatar of the medieval alchemist Johannes Faustus transmutes all he touches into fantasy and humor. His work abounds in visual puns -- the "menace of television," the man "supporting his family" -- and in fanciful answers to whimsical questions: What would a dog look like in pants? What about an elephant on roller skates? The logic of the illogical exerts a strong fascination on his inquiring pen, and even the relatively few sheets containing straight reportage of the current scene are far from drily factual.

The underground of today may very well become the brightly lit, safe-for-everyone, thoroughfare of tomorrow. But the time for adventurous souls to explore its murky meanders is now, while the excitement of discovery and creation is still fresh. Mr. Faust is an eminently qualified guide."

c38ee8ea-b9a2-11e0-946d-000f20980440 said...

Gnarly!

Anonymous said...

Jan Faust graduated as a fine arts major from Kutztown State College in 1968