Sex and the Aesthetics of the Vulgar: Reading the Creative Paradox in the Works of Robert Crumb

Purba Chakraborty
2021 Sanglap: Journal of Literary and Cultural Inquiry  
In the present time, the waves of the #MeToo Movement have sufficiently brought under rigorous scrutiny modes of sexual expression and sexuality in general. Under such circumstances the cultures of sexuality around us need a revisit. Especially in the field of art and literature, the delicate dynamics among artistic expression, readers' response to it, and the general ideological climate under which the piece of art was created comes under a new critical lens as we become aware of the possible
more » ... ignposts of misogyny in them. It becomes difficult to discuss this creative matrix, because each category in this 'triad' is absolute variable, depending on the ever-changing contours of time and space. In the present context, the paper intends to reflect on the works of Robert Crumb who has received both appreciation and stark criticism, making his position ambiguous in the history of comics studies. Now more than ever it becomes crucial and relevant to talk about Crumb not only because of his unconventional modes of expression which often verged on the levels of obscenity and seemingly outright misogynistic, but also because of the curious reason why he chose the very particular mode of sexual objectivity in his works that may be termed as pornography by some. His comics attempt to embody time of their production-the American Counterculture of 1960s and 70s. Creating at the heyday of the American Countercultural scene, Crumb reacted not only to the existing social, political and economic scenario, but also the mindless and facile comics practices in America and in doing so he single-handedly spearheaded the Underground Comix Movement.Thus they abounded in a free fervor of sexual freedom, psychedelic visions fostered by LSD, jazz music, and an ideological sympathy for the New Left ideals, to name a few. It would
doi:10.35684/jlci.2021.7206 fatcat:k3znyh7egnblja2e3lril3olai