Art Spiegelman has long been acknowledged as one of our era's foremost comics artists. However, Maus, published in two volumes in 1986 and 1991 and translated into more than a dozen languages to date, first brought his work to a mass audience.
Spiegelman is currently a contributing editor and artist for The New Yorker. Prior to Maus, he had contributed to and edited a number of underground comics magazines.
In 1978, feeling that he had come to a turning-point in his work, Spiegelman decided to expand upon a three-page comic strip, Maus, which he created in 1972 based on his father's stories of the Holocaust. The 295-page book-length version of Maus would ultimately consume thirteen years of the artist's life.
Although the style of the finished book is deceptively simple, a protracted process was required to complete each page. Starting with his father's taped memories, Spiegelman distilled salient scenes and scraps of dialogue, which in turn were refined to fit a comic-strip's relatively restricted framework. The artist deliberately adopted an austere, pared-down style in order to make his mouse-and-cat metaphor as transparent as possible and to create a seamless flow between word and image.
To achieve this concise distillation of meaning, Spiegelman reworked each panel innumerable times, tracing and retracing the contours of each drawing with multicolored inks until he arrived at the perfect synthesis of form and content.
"Art Spiegelman: The Road to Maus" is circulated by the Galerie St. Etienne in New York. It has previously been shown to great acclaim in San Francisco, Calif.; Fort Lauderdale, Fla., St. Louis, Missouri; Canton, N.Y.; Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Paris, France; and Dusseldorf, Germany. A slightly different presentation of the same material was originally showcased by New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1991.