Paul Gravett, interviews Robert Crumb who will be the focus of an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, France opening April 13, 2012.
You have been living in France since 1993. Do you feel remote from America and US pop culture, which were such an important part of your infuences, your creative mulch? Is that a problem?
I don’t feel remote from it, because in the modern world you can get anything, any movie, any book, music, any comic, you can read English language newspapers and magazines. The only thing I am remote from is the day-to-day life of the United States and when I lived in America, a lot of my work is a reaction to day-to-day life there. So that’s not there anymore and I don’t know what effect that has. When I got back there - I go back once or twice a year - after I’m there for a couple of weeks, the old contempt and disgust with America comes back over me again, probably even stronger than when I lived there. I can have contempt and disgust in France too! But in America, it’s so strong, it’s sick or something!
What do you dislike about France?
It’s a general disgust with humanity. I’m in Paris right now and we just came back from going on the Metro and you look at humanity and it’s just appalling, appalling out there! (Laughter) I’m no better, I don’t think I’m superior or anything. If I look in the mirror, I have the same reaction.
At least the French respect artists and creators a bit better?
No, the French have such a bullshit attitude about art. The bullshit is so thick here, it’s ridiculous. The French government supports art, there are a lot of art subventions, I don’t know why, they give a lot of money. Lots of people get on this bandwagon and make such terrible, terrible art, all over France.
What do you think of comics-inspired French fine artists like Herve Di Rosa?
Yeah, kinda interesting. And the other guy, Robert Combas. But there’s not enough nutrients in it for me. Guys like that are jockeying for position in the art world. Outsider artists, who aren’t looking for a place in galleries, to me are much more authentic and genuine, crazy people, working in isolation, that to me is much more interesting. In the world of comics where I come from, ninety-nine per cent of it is uninteresting to me, it’s vacuous and slick.
Paul Gravitt Interviews R Crumb