The Museum of Modern Art, according to author Neil Gaiman, failed to properly recognise a DC Comics artist in their description of a painting by Roy Lichtenstein.
The MoMA’s description mentions the Drowning Girl comic that inspired Lichtenstein’s picture but fails to recognise the original artist, Tony Abruzzo, as Gaiman pointed out in a tweet directed at the museum.
Crediting the publisher and not the artist contributes to the fiction that these comics were created by companies and not by people, and that nobody drew the original images.
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) November 13, 2021
Drowning Girl’s description has not been updated or reacted to by the MoMA.
The source for the 1963 oil painting Drowning Girl was “Run for Love!” a story from DC Comics’ Secret Love #83, which was published in 1962, according to the MoMA’s description. In the 1950s and 1960s, Abruzzo primarily worked on romantic comic books for National Periodicals/DC Comics. The original page depicted the titular Drowning Girl in the middle of the ocean, with her boyfriend clinging to a capsized boat in the backdrop.
Along with Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns, Lichtenstein was an American pop artist who had a key role in the 1960s new art movement. Lichtenstein reworked Abruzzo’s initial illustration by removing the background characters and tracing Abruzzo’s original drowning girl before changing the composition to his liking. He subsequently transferred the sketch to a canvas, which became one of his most well-known works.
This Isn’t The First Time Credit Has Been Given To A Comic Publisher And Not Original Artist
This isn’t the first time a museum has given credit to a comic book publisher rather than the original creator. Whaam!, a Lichtenstein artwork that was taken from artist Irv Novick’s panel in the 1962 DC Comic All American Men of War, had a similar incidence. Whaam! was on show at the Tate Modern in London, however, Novick’s name was omitted from the painting’s description.