We hope you’ve heard of Rube Goldberg. He was an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor. He is maybe best known for a series of popular cartoons depicting complicated gadgets that perform simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways. He received many honors in his lifetime, including a Pulitzer Prize for his political cartooning in 1948.
What we didn’t know was that he got his start in life right here in San Francisco. He was born in the City in 1883 and died in New York in 1970. He was part of an established Jewish family — his father Max was Sheriff of San Francisco County in the 1890s. He graduated from Lowell High School in 1900 and UC Berkeley in 1904, in engineering. After working as an engineer for the City briefly, he left to do sports cartoons for the San Francisco Chronicle. He relocated to New York in 1907, where he remained for the rest of his life.
The Art of Rube Goldberg — an exhibition now at the Contemporary Jewish Museum through July 8 — explores the career of Rube Goldberg (1883–1970), one of the most celebrated and influential cartoonists of all time. Marking the first comprehensive retrospective exhibition of Goldberg’s work since 1970, the exhibition brings together never-before-exhibited original drawings and preparatory sketches alongside rare photographs, films, letters, and memorabilia from the Goldberg family archives.