The Addams Family

Charles Addams (1938-88)

Ghoulish, macabre, demonic, depraved, bizarre, eerie and weird have all been used to describe his work and the characters therein. Adorable, sweet, charming, humorous, enchanting, tender and captivating are also adjectives used to describe the same body of work, as well as the man himself, the extraordinary artist Charles Samuel Addams. His rare gift was the ability to enjoin such dichotomies in wonderfully crafted cartoons and drawings loved by millions worldwide.

Born in Westfield, New Jersey in 1912, Charles Samuel Addams’ prodigal artistic talent lead him to become one of America’s best cartoonists. In 1933, at just 21 years of age, The New Yorker magazine first published his work. Addams went on to become one of that magazine’s marquee contributors until his death in 1988. His body of work spans almost 60 years of output and is estimated to contain several thousand works. Over 15 books of his artwork have so far been published, appearing in many languages across the globe. Addams works appear in a number of prestigious permanent collections including The New York Public Library, The Museum of the City of New York, The Smithsonian Institution, The Cooper Hewitt and The Library of Congress.

Charles Addams is most widely known for the creation of The Addams Family of characters who formed the basis of the TV show that first appeared in 1964. Now famous, Morticia, Fester, Gomez, Wednesday, Pugsley, Grandma, Lurch and Thing existed in various forms and aspects within the Addams cartoons prior to the sitcom. It was in working with the idea of a television production, that Addams coalesced a motley group of unnamed characters into the specific personages he then collectively called The Addams Family. These Family members appear in only about 80 initially published works, while the majority of his works are occupied by hundreds of other characters, from Aviators to Zoo Keepers. Addams themes deal as much with modern life as with ancient times and his topics span art, travel, relationships, the workplace, animals and children, to name a few.

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1 Comment

  1. So interesting! I recognize his illustrations from The New Yorker but never put him and The Addams Family together. Such a brilliant man and I love his eccentricity!

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