Rube Goldberg 
San Francisco/New York, USA

Reuben Lucius Goldberg (Rube Goldberg) was born in San Francisco in 1883 and died in 1970 in New York. A founding member of the National Cartoonists Society, a political cartoonist and a Pulitzer Prize winner, Rube Goldberg is best known for his “inventions.”, Rube’s early years as an engineer informed his most acclaimed work. A Rube Goldberg contraption – an elaborate set of arms, wheels, gears, handles, cups and rods, put in motion by balls, canary cages, pails, boots, bathtubs, paddles and live animals – takes a simple task and makes it extraordinarily complicated. He had solutions for How To Get The Cotton Out Of An Aspirin Bottle, imagined a Self-Operating Napkin, and created a Simple Alarm Clock – to name just a few of his hilariously depicted drawings. Rube Goldberg did not build the machines he drew, but his cartoons have become an inspiration to aspiring engineers and scientists across the world. 


A prolific artist who trained as an engineer, Rube Goldberg created numerous newspaper comics, including Foolish Questions, Bobo Baxter and The Weekly Meeting of the Tuesday Women’s Club. The drawings that garnered him the most success, however, were of Professor Lucifer Gorgonzola Butts. We are showing seven drawings from this series, in which Goldberg drew annotated plans for complex machines that carry out simple tasks in a particularly indirect or convoluted way. Known as “Rube Goldberg machines,” they have ongoing appeal.


These drawings provide a glimpse of the artist’s unfettered imagination, his humour and his particular brand of mechanics, activated by humans or animals.

Keep Hat on Windy Day (1914-1964)

Crédit Goldberg@ Espace 400e
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All materials used with permission.