The illustration of the Old Testament’s (Jewish Bible) first book Genesis (published in 2009) was put for display at the Hammer Musuem in Los Angeles between October 24 – February 7, 2010. The illustration comprised of artwork by Robert Dennis Crumb (born 1943), the most famous US-born underground cartoonist of his time. It took R. Crumb five years to finish the illustration work. He lives in south France. His other works can be viewed at his official website here.
Son of a Marine master sergeant Charles Crumb Sr, Robert Dennis Crumb, was raised as Catholic, but he says: “I don’t think Genesis is a good place to look for spiritual or moral guidance. I don’t believe it’s Word of God. I think the stories are very powerful. I am not out to ridicule them or belittle them“.
In March 2005, R. Crumb was interviewed at his home in the south of France by Simon Hattenstone for the Guardian: “Some people call him a genius; some call him sexist and racist; some say he is all of these things”. In the 1990s, director Terry Zwigoff made a documentary about R. Crumb’s life. The documentary showed Crumb and his second wife Aline, also a cartoonist and artist, preparing to leave America for France. He seemed to be dogged by fame and despair about modern America and his wife was determined to drag him somewhere he would find easier to live a reclusive life. The Crumbs don’t drink alcohol and have not used drugs for the last 30 years.
“I’ve spent a lot of time studying different religious traditions and I meditate,” he says. “I think that all humans have that need for some spiritual meaning. “But,” he adds with a hearty laugh, “I don’t think you’re going to find it in ‘Genesis.'”
R. Crumb’s illustrations show the Book of Genesis to be full of pornography, has been condemned by many Jewish and Christian scholars. The book carries the warning “adult supervision recommended for minors”. It includes graphic illustrations of Biblical characters having sexual intercourse and other scenes depicting naked men and women. (Genesis 19:30-36; 35:22; 38:8-10; 38:15-30).
Robert Crumbs told USAToday: “If people of faith say what I have done is blasphemous or profane, I would shrug my shoulders and say ‘I just illustrated what is there (in the Book of Genesis). To take it as sacred text, or the Word of God or something to live by, is kind of crazy. So much of it makes no sense. To think of all the fighting and killing that’s gone on over this book, it just became to me a colossal absurdity. That’s probably the most profound moment I’ve had – the absurdity of it all”.