Another way of saying this is there’s been a renaissance going on for some time now in the world of graphic novels, and a renaissance means a kind of ripening. To say that graphic novels are as powerful as the prose fiction being written, is to say that artists like Ware and Bell have achieved something unprecedented. Liana Finck belongs in this company, not only for her work in the graphic novel, but also–unlike Ware and Bell–her work in the single-panel cartoon.
Finck combines an impressionistic genius with a singular and lyrical style, creating art that is concentrated into various and endlessly interpretable images. Although she has recently published a new book–Let There Be Light (Penguin Random House, 2022), which is interesting in different ways–I think her more fascinating work so far has been in her first three: A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York (HarperCollins, 2014); Passing for Human: A Graphic Memoir (Penguin Random House, 2018); and Excuse Me: Cartoons, Complaints, and Notes to Self (Penguin Random House, 2019). Finck’s art is like experiencing the primary colors in a totally different, sophisticated, and sometimes wonderfully Yiddish-inflected way…
For The Museum of Modern Art something completely different.
As a teenager, Finck began to love visual art and the ways it helped her understand herself. In this comic, she excavates a recurring dream that has followed her throughout an intense period of transition…
“I? think dreams have a lot in common with art…they’re stories we tell ourselves in order to make sense of things. [With this story,] I? wanted to see if I? could translate dreams into art.”
The cartoonist reflects on her relationship to
museums following a series of major life events.
Liana remains a regular contributor to The New Yorker.