If, like me, you were born in the 1970s, and get a warm and fuzzy feeling when you consider Peanuts, the world's most influential comic strip, then brace yourselves for the announcement of the decade! Good Grief, Charlie Brown! is coming to Somerset House this autumn to celebrate our beloved Snoopy and friends and their cultural legacy.
The landmark exhibition will showcase the original drawings of the cartoon's creator Charles M. Schulz, alongside works inspired by Snoopy, Charlie Brown and the rest of the Peanuts gang, from some of today's most exciting artists and designers.
The show, which launches on 25 October 2018, will explore its impact on the contemporary cultural landscape, uncovering the social and political complexities told through the four-panel comic strip that has spoken to scores of creatives in their own work. Lucy, for instance, embraced feminist ideals and Peppermint Patty proved that female athletes were just as capable as their male counterparts. 2018 also marks the 50th anniversary of Franklin, the black character introduced into the predominantly white cast after the assassination of Rev. Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.
Schulz's strips also spoke to the soul, pondering age-old questions in the search for meaning in life. Indeed, Peanuts philosophies and aphorisms have become legend. Who could forget Lucy's "happiness is a warm puppy" or Charlie Brown's "I only dread one day at a time"?
Curated by Claire Catterall, with the support of the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, the exhibition will consider how Peanuts became an important part of our daily lives and how its cast of misfit characters continue to captivate audiences, young and old, around the world.
Catterall said: "Schulz had a deep appreciation of and love for the arts and he poured into this into Peanuts. Just look at Snoopy – he tirelessly read War and Peace, one word per day, and hoped himself to become a 'World Famous Author' with titles such as 'Snow White and the Seven Beagles', despite repeated rejections. Once, he even had his famous dog kennel wrapped by environmental artist Christo, a remarkable TARDIS-like building that also housed a Van Gogh.
"Schulz saw himself in Schroeder – the musical genius who poured everything into his work to the exclusion of much else. Although cloaked in humour, Schulz understood the artistic imperative – what it took to be a great artist – and we see this over and over again in the strip.
"We're told by his family that Schulz – or Sparky as they call him – would have been so happy and humbled by an exhibition where the world of arts and culture reference him and his own creations in response to the deep and enduring influence he has had on them."
Expect over 100 comic strips and personal artefacts from the Schulz Museum and contemporary works from contributors including Andy Holden, David Musgrave, Fiona Banner, François Curlet, KAWS, Ken Kagami, Lucas Price, Mark Drew, Mark Mulroney, Mel Brimfield, Mira Calix, Ryan Gander and Steven Claydon.
Good Grief, Charlie Brown! Celebrating Peanuts and its Cultural Legacy runs from 25 October 2018 to 3 March 2019 at Somerset House. Book tickets via somersethouse.org.uk.