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MHS Library | Logicomix

Looking at ART in Logicomix

Logicomix invites readers to familiarise themselves with emblematic works of art. Readers are invited to look at famous paintings and sculptures of the past as well as literary works and think about how they are used in new forms of art, such as the graphic novel, in a new context and with a new meaning. Students can do detective work in trying to recognise sources and influences in order to approach the complex relations among genres and/or among art, and discover the meaning absorbed and transformed in the network of the intertextual space. 

It is noteworthy that in the first frame of the first page and first chapter of Logicomix, immediately after the introduction, we see the Thinker (1902) of Auguste Rodin. The invitation to readers is to search the history and meaning of this sculpture and try to associate it with the aspect of Logicomix's story which has to do with human thinking and understanding. This globally recognised image encourages further research on this work of art and thinking about its new meaning earned by this new contextualisation. 

When young Bertrand Russell suffers from nightmares after the death of his grandfather in 1879, just before the emergence of Expressionism in art, he is shown between frightening creatures in Baroque style (50, figure 6), while his face and body posture imitates the frenzied, screaming and ossified Expressionist figure of Scream (1893) of Edvard Munch (50). A few pages later, Bertrand has come of age and settled important life decisions. The didacticism and terror of the Baroque as well as the Expressionistic exteriorisation of a troubled inner world are replaced with a romantic mood (54). Lyrics of Shelley (83-85) are cited and in parallel a full-paged panel derives from the romanticism of Casper David Friedrich showing Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (1818) (85). When Russell visits with Alfred North Whitehead, the retrospective exhibition of the Pre-Rafaelites, the mythological Danaides of John William Waterhouse serve as a pretext for Russell to make a decision (187-8). The analogy is clear. The Danaides were condemned by the gods to endlessly throw water in a leaking jar. Russell has continuously postponed the publication of Principia Mathematica (the three-volume work on the foundation of mathematics written by Russell and Alfred North Whitehead). Munch's Scream is back when Russell is going through a crisis of pessimism, but this time his emotional situation is clearly designed and based on Munch's model; the work is now completed by the Norwegian artist and Russell can dream by the terms and the pictorial representation of Munch (234). The Ready-Mades of Marcel Duchamp, such as The Fountain (1917) (266) and Black Square (1915) (267) of Kazimir Malevich, together with the nonsense of the Dadaist Theatre (267) are used as pretext for Russell to realise the values of the old world and the positivistic illusion can no longer express the man of the 1920-1930 war. 

Source: Graphic Novels and Comics in the Classroom: Essays on the Educational Power of Sequential Art edited by Carrye Kay Syma and Robert G. Weiner.


Artistic and literary movement launched in Zurich in 1916 but shared by independent groups in New York, Berlin, Paris and elsewhere. The Dadaists channelled their revulsion at World War I into an indictment of the nationalist and materialist values that had brought it about. They were united not by a common style but by a rejection of conventions in art and thought, seeking through their unorthodox techniques, performances and provocations to shock society into self-awareness. The name Dada itself was typical of the movement’s anti-rationalism. Various members of the Zurich group are credited with the invention of the name; according to one account it was selected by the insertion of a knife into a dictionary, and was retained for its multilingual, childish and nonsensical connotations. The Zurich group was formed around the poets hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, tristan Tzara and richard Huelsenbeck, and the painters Hans Arp, marcel Janco and hans Richter. The term was subsequently adopted in New York by the group that had formed around Marcel DuchampFrancis Picabia, Marius de Zayas (1880–1961) and Man Ray. The largest of several German groups was formed in Berlin by Huelsenbeck with john Heartfield, raoul Hausmann, hannah Höch and George Grosz. As well as important centres elsewhere (Barcelona, Cologne and Hannover), a prominent post-war Parisian group was promoted by Tzara, Picabia and André Breton. This disintegrated acrimoniously in 1922–3, although further Dada activities continued among those unwilling to join Surrealism in 1924.

© 2009 Oxford University Press

Art in Logicomix

Le Penseur in the Musée Rodin in Paris (Wikipedia)

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog. Casper David Friedrich (Wikipedia)

Fountain, Duchamp.  Fountain is a 1917 work produced by Marcel Duchamp. The piece was a porcelain urinal, which was signed "R.Mutt" and titled Fountain.  Read more about Duchamp and the fountain

Munch: The Scream. (Norwegian: Skrik; German: Der Schrei der Natur)

The Danaides (1903), a Pre-Raphaelite interpretation by John William Waterhouse (Wikipedia)
Read about the Daughters of Danaus or Danaides in Wikipedia.

Kazimir MalevichThe Black Square, 1915, oil on linen, 79.5 x 79.5 cm, Tretyakov GalleryMoscow.[1] (Wikipedia)

What is the big deal about Malevich's The Black Square? (Source: The Tate)

The role of visual art in Dada

The Role of Visual Art in Dada

For Dada artists, the aesthetic of their work was considered secondary to the ideas it conveyed. “For us, art is not an end in itself,” wrote Dada poet Hugo Ball, “but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in.” Dadaists both embraced and critiqued modernity, imbuing their works with references to the technologies, newspapers, films, and advertisements that increasingly defined contemporary life.

They were also experimental, provocatively re-imagining what art and art making could be. Using unorthodoxmaterials and chance-based procedures, they infused their work with spontaneity and irreverence. Wielding scissors and glue, Dada artists innovated withcollage and photomontage. Still others explored games, experimental theater, and performance. A central figure, Marcel Duchamp, declared common, manufactured goods to be “readymade” artworks, radically challenging the notion of a work of art as something beautiful made by a technically skilled artist.  Source:

Richard Boix. Da-da (New York Dada Group). 1921. Ink on paper. 11 1/4″ x 14 1/2″ (28.6 x 36.8 cm). Katherine S. Dreier Bequest