NYHS exhibit celebrates cartoonist Mort Gerberg’s witty take on city life and social issues

Mort Gerberg, “No, not a ‘D’ – it’s a ‘B’! You know, like in Beowulf…Botticelli…Brahams…”, cartoon for the Saturday Review, 1965 Courtesy of the New York Historical Society

Mort Gerberg, “No, not a ‘D’ – it’s a ‘B’! You know, like in Beowulf…Botticelli…Brahams…”, cartoon for the Saturday Review, 1965 Courtesy of the New York Historical Society

Sometimes, the daily grind of  New York City life – from waiting for the subway, to getting hit with unidentified “New York Drip,” to sharing an apartment with God-knows-how-many people, can be overwhelming. Other times, you just have to laugh. Beloved cartoonist Mort Gerberg has been helping New Yorkers laugh about the various predicaments of city life, current events, politics, and even sports for more than 50 years. Now through May 5th, the New-York Historical Society is hosting “Mort Gerberg Cartoons: A New Yorker’s Perspective,” a retrospective of his work that offers over 120 cartoons, drawings, and pieces of sketch reportage spanning the whole of Gerberg’s career.

Mort Gerberg, “Wait, those weren’t lies. That was spin!”, cartoon for the New Yorker, April 20, 1998 Courtesy of the New York Historical Society

Mort Gerberg, “Wait, those weren’t lies. That was spin!”, cartoon for the New Yorker, April 20, 1998 Courtesy of the New York Historical Society

The exhibit, curated by The New-York Historical Society’s Marilyn Satin Kushner, curator and head, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, is presented in conjunction with the new book Mort Gerberg On the Scene: A 50-Year Cartoon Chronicle, published by Fantagraphics Underground.

Mort Gerberg, “Castaway Island,” cartoon for the New Yorker, June 4, 2012 Courtesy of the New York Historical Societ

Mort Gerberg, “Castaway Island,” cartoon for the New Yorker, June 4, 2012 Courtesy of the New York Historical Societ

Kushner points out that Gerberg’s cartoons, dealing as they do with decades of stalled subways, crooked politicians, or the ongoing struggle for women’s rights, are strikingly relevant in today’s world.“He did cartoons 30 or 40 years ago and all of a sudden they’re extremely relevant today,” she told amNY, “He really plugs into issues.”

Mort Gerberg, “The thing is, you have to really want to change.”, cartoon for the New Yorker, April 20, 2014 Courtesy of the New York Historical Society

Mort Gerberg, “The thing is, you have to really want to change.”, cartoon for the New Yorker, April 20, 2014 Courtesy of the New York Historical Society

Gerberg, 87, is also deeply plugged into the city he calls home. A native New Yorker, Gerberg grew up in Brooklyn, ping-ponging around Bensonhurst, Flatbush, and Fort Hamilton. He now lives in Manhattan with his wife, Judith. Since he often finds inspiration on the subway, his lifelong journey through New York City is one we are lucky to see in this retrospective.

“Mort Gerberg Cartoons: A New Yorker’s Perspective” is on view now through May 5th. For more information, visit the New-York Historical Society.