Good Grief, Charlie Brown! explores the iconic cartoon strip in charming fashion.
When Charles M. Schulz published his first Peanuts cartoon in October 1950, you have to wonder whether he knew he’d be writing it for the next 50 years. In fact, it’s widely regarded as the longest story ever told by one human being, so the ongoing Good Grief, Charlie Brown! exhibit is certainly one for your list. Featuring original cartoons, and work inspired by admirers, it’s currently in residence at Somerset House until March 3rd, 2019 – and here’s a peek inside.
Snoopy, Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, and the whole Peanuts gang are in town for this affair. Schulz actually drew nearly 18,000 strips over the course of his career, so there’s a hell of a lot of material to draw on (if you’ll pardon the pun). Whilst the obvious purpose was entertainment, the Peanuts cartoons often dove deep into questions about contemporary issues including feminism, race, war, and existentialism – all without a hint of adult supervision.
It’s this questioning and reevaluation that makes Good Grief, Charlie Brown! an art exhibit for our own times, when life is altogether a little messier… Aside from the cartoon strips, the display also features memorabilia such as merchandise from the Snoopy for President campaign, and objects from Schulz’s personal collection.
It’s not just Schulz’s work on display though, as the exhibit has commissioned a glittering array of contemporary artists to submit their own responses to the Peanuts cartoon – whether that take the form of sculpture, film, fashion, or music. Amongst those partaking are Mira Calix, Andy Holden, Mel Brimfield, Ryan Gander, and Mark Drew, whose hip hop inspired designs have become an early favourite amongst punters.
More interactive fare comes from Marcus Coates, with an installation calling ‘Drawing for Who Knows’; a psychiatric help booth that mimics Lucy’s rather brutal advice-giving pedestal from the cartoons. There’s also a Snoopy Cinema playing Peanuts TV specials, and light boxes that help you to draw the whole gang.
I’ve never read a Peanuts cartoon in my life, but I’m absolutely sold. And that was even before I spotted the exhibition shop, flogging all kinds of merch – from clothing and homeware, to games and stationery. Whether you’re hoping to explore the often complex philosophy of the comic strip, or are simply a fan of cartoon dogs, you’d do well to pick up a ticket to this landmark exhibition.
Location: Embankment Galleries, South Wing, Somerset House, Strand, WC2R 1LA. Nearest stations are Temple and Embankment. See it on Google Maps.
Opening hours: 10am-6pm (Mon, Tue, Sat & Sun), and 11am-8pm (Wed, Thu, Fri). Until March 3rd, 2019.
Entry: £14 for adults, £11 for concessions, and under-12s go free. Buy tickets here.
More info: on the Somerset House website.
Featured image: @francescahartwell