The Outsider Art Thread

WhistlingJack

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#1
Life on the outside



By Dan Bell

BBC News


For many in the art world their creations are little more than the daubings of madmen. Their work has been bulldozed and vandalised, and one artist had bricks thrown through his window. Mostly they are completely ignored. This is the lot of the UK's outsider artists.

Outsider art is art that sits outside any known idiom. It is art created from an entirely new language. It is not for sale. And it is marked by obsession.

To some who are weary of the increasing commercialisation of art, outsider works are unpolished jewels, and the people who make them are the purest artists of all.

And hidden away on an old allotment near Wigan, a vast new creation has recently come to light. Former Lancashire cotton mill worker Kevin Duffy, 62, has poured his life's energy into creating a magical alternative reality.

For over three decades he has used reclaimed building materials to transform his allotment-turned-garden centre into a labyrinth of three-quarter-size Tudor-style cottages, rendered pillars and curved walls.

On Boxing Day 13 years ago, his wife fell dead beneath the Christmas tree, and Duffy's work took on a dramatic new urgency. Since then the site has erupted with more than 80 buildings and sculptures.

He doesn't use scaffolding because it slows him down. He says he will never stop building and he expects to die with the work still in progress.

Those who think outsider artworks are the daubings of the insane have a point - outsider art was first recognised in the early 19th Century among the inmates of asylums.

In 1948, the artist Jean Dubuffet began to collect these obsessive, surreal and powerful works made by people who not only had never been to an art gallery, but barely knew what one was.

Dubuffet coined the term Art Brut to describe his collection. It translates as raw art - as in uncooked by culture or aesthetics, and like a nerve. This is outsider art.

But is it art?

No-one knows how many of these pockets of creative obsession are scattered across the country, but there are at least a dozen, and they have often evolved over decades.

• In Guernsey, a French monk built a miniature chapel and encrusted its entire surface with brightly coloured broken glass, shells and pottery

• In Northumberland, a strange menagerie sprung up out of concrete

• The setting for the TV series The Prisoner in Portmeirion, Wales, is an artwork

• And in Suffolk there is a garden made of hub caps

But is it art? According to Iain Jackson, an architecture student who has written about Duffy for Raw Vision magazine, the country's only publication devoted to outsider art, Duffy's environment has both the deliberation and ambiguity of a work of art.

"Like a lot of outsider environments, it's like a narrative or story," he says.

"Kevin thinks about the perspectives and axis that are created by his installations. He explained to me how he thinks of the foreground, middle and distance, being careful to place structures at key moments to create a scene and carefully composed arrangement."

Duffy says he wants his world to offer people an escape. Visitors to his garden centre are encouraged to explore the artwork it is built around. "We're trying to illusionise people, so it knocks them a bit dizzy because they don't know where they are," he says.

"All I want them to do is to take them out of themselves. To come on, to forget that they've got a mortgage, and they've got wife trouble, and the car's broken down, and they go off in a different mood."

He knows all about the need to escape. When his wife died unexpectedly he was devastated and he and his son Carl, 41, ploughed all their energy into the work.

"Rather than just brood and stop in on a rainy day and put on the cricket, we put on the dirty clothes," he says.

"It takes your mind off it, because you become obsessed when somebody dies. You can't think of anything else because of the grief. Keep going till you drop, that's the best way."

The Tudor era is his muse - the stately homes and gardens of nearby Yorkshire helping fire his inspiration.

There is no organisation devoted to preserving these works and many have been lost. One man spent 15 years encrusting his entire garden with sculptures and sea shells, only to have it pulled down by his son with a JCB when he died.

Duffy, who was known locally, only came to the attention of Raw Vision a few months ago when he asked the council mark his creation as a place of local interest. They refused but told him to contact the magazine.

John Maizels, editor of Raw Vision, is heartbroken when they are destroyed. "It's really upsetting because it's gone forever," he says.

From a small clapperboard house near Watford, the magazine traces outsider artists from across the world. Its walls are lined with brightly-coloured books and magazines, each one a window into an alternative reality.

"It is not affected in any way," says Maizels. "It's not for sale and most of it isn't even done to be exhibited."

"When I came across it I was just so amazed by it, it was so powerful and it had such strong personal meaning... people are revealing themselves, their demons, their own aspirations, their own inner feelings.

"When you get to go into them and walk around, you're right inside someone's creative world and it's an extraordinary experience.

"They don't go to exhibitions or private views, they just work. They've got an inner compulsion."

Duffy says he has created 15 "sculptures" in the last year alone. "I can't help it," he says. "I do it all the time, every day, even when I'm ill."

Will it ever be done?

"No, no. I'll die and there'll be a building half done. It'll never be finished. It can't be finished."

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2007/10/26 14:51:55 GMT

© BBC MMVII
Scradje
 

Yithian

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#2
I read that on the BBC too. I think it's wonderful. The fact that he is comfortable with the project as perpetually ongoing - he has no intention of finishing - nor it seems any conception of how that could happen - seems rather healthy to me despite the story's outsider/obsessive slant.
 
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#3
Short article on, and some not terribly brilliant photographs of the work of, the late Angus McPhee here.

I love the work of this man - who, like so many people I'd like to know more about and who, if only I'd known I would have been glad were in the world, I only discovered through reading his obituary.

The image of him calmly watching his work raked up with the detritus of autumn and burnt before his eyes is moving in a way that no amount of time spent in an overlit and anodyne gallery staring at the overpriced and self-important gibberings of some soon to be forgotten alumnus of St Martin's will ever be...well, as far as I'm concerned it is.
 

James_H

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#4
I think we may already have a thread on this.

did anyone see the amazing outsider art exhibition in the whitechapel gallery a couple of years back? Loads of Henry Darger and Madge Gill pieces, which were quite gobsmacking in real life and at full size.

buy your own Henry Darger, if you're rich
 
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#5
Prometheus puppeteer tackles Scots grass weaver's story
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-h ... s-18911958
By Steven McKenzie
BBC Scotland Highlands and Islands reporter

Mark Whitaker worked on Ridley Scott's Prometheus

Related Stories

Ridley Scott returns to Alien
New play recalls 'silent weaver'
In pictures: The 'silent weaver'

A puppeteer who worked on sci-fi film Prometheus is helping to tell the story of a psychiatric patient who wove intricate items from grass.

Derbyshire-based Mark Whitaker is touring with Angus - Weaver of Grass, a new play about Angus MacPhee.

MacPhee barely spoke after taking ill while serving in WWII. He made clothing and rope from grass and leaves.

The play has taken Whitaker to Tiree, Benbecula and Mull and will be shown in Glasgow and Edinburgh later this year.

He said: "Working on the play could not be more different from Prometheus."

'Covered in goo'

Mark Whitaker is touring Scotland with the play Angus - Weaver of Grass
The blockbuster was released in cinemas in June and marked director Ridley Scott's return to the Alien franchise.

Set about 40 years prior to the first Alien movie, it features Girl With The Dragon Tattoo's Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba, star of The Wire and Luther.

The production also saw filming taking place on the Isle of Skye's Trotternish Ridge.

Mr Whitaker said: "There is not much I can say about Prometheus without a spoiler alert.

"What I can say is that we had a part to play in everything that makes you go 'yeuch' and hide behind the sofa.

"I spent quite a lot of time covered in goo."

Lancashire-based Horse and Bamboo Theatre's Angus - Weaver of Grass has been three years in the making and draws on stories about the soldier and research material.

'Moving experience'
MacPhee, who died in 1997, took ill while garrisoned on the Faroes and was admitted as a psychiatric patient at Craig Dunain hospital in Inverness.


Horse and Bamboo Theatre spent three years creating the play
Items he wove that escaped being swept up in the hospital's grounds and burned in bonfires with fallen leaves are held in a number of museums, including one in Switzerland.

Mr Whitaker said: "On Benbecula, we met surviving members of Angus's family and they were very, very kind to us.

"They told us stories about him that had not made it into books about him, took us to the croft where he was born and showed us a rock where he carved his initials before he went off to war.

"It was a really moving experience."
 

Ulalume

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#6
Spookdaddy said:
Short article on, and some not terribly brilliant photographs of the work of, the late Angus McPhee here.

I love the work of this man - who, like so many people I'd like to know more about and who, if only I'd known I would have been glad were in the world, I only discovered through reading his obituary.

The image of him calmly watching his work raked up with the detritus of autumn and burnt before his eyes is moving in a way that no amount of time spent in an overlit and anodyne gallery staring at the overpriced and self-important gibberings of some soon to be forgotten alumnus of St Martin's will ever be...well, as far as I'm concerned it is.
I'd never heard of Angus McPhee. This work looks amazing. Thanks for posting this, Spookdaddy.

I have a particular interest in artists who live outside of "ordinary" society, yet manage to express themselves creatively. The art of the "Electric pencil" (alternately spelled Ectlectric pencil) is very intriguing, IMO

http://www.electricpencildrawings.com/

Before the identity of the artist was discovered, all that was known was that they were done by a long term patient at State Hospital no.3. in Nevada Missouri sometime in the early 20th century. Now that his identity is known, it's distressing to realize that the references to electricity and ECT in the drawings likely refer to the electroconvulsive therapy he received there.
 

JamesWhitehead

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#7
I'm sure it was in FT that I first heard of Darger; it was hard not to see him as a pervert first and a minor artist second. Yet here is an essay that tries to reframe him as merely being outside the artistic establishment:

"Focusing primarily on what may have been abnormal in Darger, however, distorts our understanding of his work. By selection, we could turn Darger into a painter of delightful landscapes rather than a pervert if we exhibited only his pictures of flowers, trees and butterflies."

http://www.leopoldsegedin.com/essay_detail_darger.cfm

When I worked in arts centres, it was not unusual to encounter eccentric characters, who ploughed their own obsessive field, regardless of the attempts by resident artists to expand their range. I recall a very young boy who would work on nothing but make-up designs, insisting that circular paper was provided.

Then there was the woman who could express her visions only by pastel studies of the green, stacking chairs of the studio. Others tended to draw the anguished, split faces we might be tempted to call classically schizoid. These are pretty-much standard issue self-expression and you can see them proudly displayed in many a school exhibition.

I suppose all these artists were insisting on their right to make things, regardless of the marketplace or what the supposed experts told them. If a child is compulsively shading in squares, you tend to regard it as a retreat from the world, yet a desire to concentrate on some limited forms can be regarded as highly artistic, as in the standard subjects of cubism or Monet's water-lilies.

As a young man, I was fascinated by the figure of Havergal Brian, who completed 32 symphonies, as well as a vast surreal opera and other works. He kept on writing his abrupt but visionary pieces, despite the fact that the patronage which existed at the start of his career had collapsed by his maturity. By the time he was in his nineties, a few admirers saw to it that a film and a record of some pieces was made, albeit by a youth-orchestra!

The market for Brian's music may never be great, though you can track down many of the works online now, if you wish to sample his gruff eloquence. Was his music really much harder to understand than that of Ralph Vaughan Williams, who enjoyed a private income and official positions? :?:

edit: "that of" added to final sentence.
 

GNC

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#8
I've seen the documentary on Henry Darger (creepily narrated by Dakota Fanning when she was a kid) and I can see why self expression is so important, but also how outsider art will never mean half as much to others as it does the artist.

Darger was right to keep his fantasies secret because he'd be labelled a nutter (to put it mildly) otherwise, which is why I'm not quite convinced by the sort of person who'd want to read his acres of scribblings or even have a picture of his on the wall. Seems affected in a way that the artist was not.
 

JamesWhitehead

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#9
I'm not sure where else to put this but it concerns a well-meaning lady's attempt at restoration!

Guardian Article Here

:rofl:

You do need to save the image and blow it up to get the full "bloated hedgehog" effect!

I suppose if Liz. Taylor had been lured out of retirement to play Jesus . . .

edit: missed 'e' in hedgehog corrected.
 

Mythopoeika

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#11
It's horrendous.
As someone who has done some picture restoration myself, I have to say that some pre-existing artistic talent is definitely required.
Whatever possessed this woman to think that she could even attempt it without even a basic talent is beyond me.
I hope they fix it.
 
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#14
Images and vid at link.

OUTSIDER ARTIST MINGERING MIKE TO HAVE IMAGINARY SOUL DISCOGRAPHY DISPLAYED BY THE SMITHSONIAN
http://www.thevinylfactory.com/vinyl-fa ... ithsonian/

Mike Stevens’ extraordinary collection of hand-drawn record sleeves, cardboard 45?s, and musical ephemera belonging to his fictional soul superstar and alter-ego Mingering Mike has been acquired by The Smithsonian Institute.

The story is an incredible one. Between 1968 and 1977 singer and soul sensation Mingering Mike recorded over fifty albums and soundtracks, managed thirty-five record labels including the likes of Fake Records, Sex, and Mother Goose, and performed around the world, even taking part in a live benefit concert in aid of Sickle Cell Anemia.

Wonder why you’ve never heard of him? Until ten years ago, Mingering Mike existed solely in the imagination of a youthful Mike Stevens who, as a lonely teenager growing up in 60?s and 70?s Washington DC, lived out his dream of becoming a world-famous soul star by creating a fictional discography of hand-painted albums, cardboard records, 45?s and soundtracks for his alter-ego Mingering Mike.

Although the music belonging to this fantastical discography never existed, Stevens’ recorded a handful of demos and tapes in his bedroom to accompany the intricately crafted gatefold interiors, extensive liner notes, and grooved cardboard records.

As The Smithsonian explain on their website:

The lines between reality and fantasy are fluid in this body of work—commercially produced tapes with Mingering Mike’s fabricated labels mingle with tapes and demo records holding his original music; made–up reviews supposedly written by real musicians (such as James Brown) dot the covers, and recordings are stamped with claims of having been made live in D.C. venues such as the Howard Theatre. Comprehensively, the uncanny detail of Mingering Mike’s synthetic career powerfully evokes black America in the 1960s and 1970s.

The covers paint a poignant picture of the split between the fantasy of life in the limelight and the stark reality of drugs and disenfranchisement of Civil Rights era Black America.

Having gone missing in the 80?s, Mike’s fictional discography was discovered by crate-digger Doni Hagar at a flea market in DC in 2003. Fascinated by this haul of unknown, hand-made records, Hagar has since become the manager of Stevens’ collection, which has been acquired by The Smithsonian American Art Musuem for a retrospective of over 100 pieces of original Mingering Mike memorabilia planned for the start of 2015. [via Okay Player]

Watch this mini-doc about Mingering Mike:



The show will be Mingering Mike’s first solo retrospective, having appeared in the exhibition The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl and been featured in a book published by Doni Hagar in 2007. Artist Mike Stevens has chosen to remain largely anonymous in this whole process, although he was photographed covering his face in a recent interview with The Washington Post.

Find out more at The Home of Mingering Mike.

Check out some highlights from Mingering Mike’s archive below:
 

rynner2

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#17
Naïve art exhibition at St Ives gallery.
By The Cornishman.
Thursday, August 15, 2013.
By Frank Ruhrmund

OPENING this Sunday in the Mariner's Gallery, St Ives, the exhibition by members of the Association of British Naive Artists promises to be a spectacular event, one filled with colour, charm and joy.

No stranger to St Ives, the ABNA has held no less than three previous exhibitions in the Crypt Gallery, but as Mousehole artist Judy Joel, the association's secretary said: "Everyone in the association is delighted to have been invited to exhibit in what is the main gallery of the St Ives Society of Artists, and deem it a great privilege to be here."

An association which was founded 11 years ago by the late Peter Denham, who sadly died a decade ago, with the aim of promoting the work of naive artists in the UK, it has since flourished and as well as enjoying exhibitions in Cornwall has held others further afield in London and Yorkshire.

An association which encourages people of all ages and from all walks of life to pick up a brush, to have a go, and express themselves through painting, it also promotes education. Judy Joel who, as well as being a naive artist, runs her own Little Picture Gallery in Mousehole, is passionate in her belief that naive art and artists should play a more important part in this country's art world than it does, and is quick to point out that the UK is one of the few countries which does not have a gallery or museum dedicated to its naive art and artists.
Something which she hopes the ABNA will be able to address in the future. She said: "Naive art expresses a general sense of happiness, spontaneity and complex imagination.

"Some say that the academic artist paints with his or her brains while the naive artist paints only with his or her soul."

Be that as it may, there can be no doubting the fact that the works in this exhibition, from Judy Joel's own Blessing The Lifeboat At Mousehole and Daphne Stephenson's Jubilee Pool, to Lewis Mitchell's Corn Fields and Roger Lowry's Penberth Valley, have been painted with both brains and soul.

Members of ABNA come from far and wide, from the tip of Cornwall to the Isle of Skye, Antoinette Kelly, for instance, is travelling from France to be at Sunday's opening, while Lesley Nugent is coming from the north of England.
A new member of the association who lives and works in Southport, the latter says it is her love of coastal living and fondness for bold colours that have inspired her to create the fantasy town of Nuggleton By The Sea where anything can, and often does, happen.

Filled with a sense of the pleasant memories of a happy childhood, talking of her paintings she said: "I'm thrilled when people tell me they make them feel good." It is its overall feel-good factor, in fact, which makes this exhibition so appealing.

Guaranteed to raise the spirits whatever the weather, admission is free, and it can be seen in the Mariner's Gallery, Norway Square, St Ives, from Sunday until August 31.

http://www.cornishman.co.uk/Na-iuml-ve- ... story.html

That sounds good - I'll try to get there!

An earlier naive (or primitive) artist from St Ives is one I've mentioned on my website, Alfred Wallis.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Wallis

His gravestone was created by potter Bernard Leach - see about halfway down this page:
http://cornwalltidesreach.weebly.com/pe ... ves-2.html
 

rynner2

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#18
At last! Outsider Art gets on Telly!

imagine... - Winter 2013 - 4. Turning the Art World Inside Out

What do a UFO-obsessed Romanian refugee, a schizophrenic Italian war veteran, and an 80-year-old sex-mad Russian woman have in common? Answer: They are all outsider artists. After the huge success of recent shows in Venice, London and Paris, interest in Outsider Art has never been higher. But what exactly is it? How do we define it? And who are its gurus and leading lights? Alan Yentob explores this captivating, compelling and magical alternative art universe. Why in 2013 is Outsider Art finally being feted by the art establishment, and what took it so long? imagine... embarks on a worldwide journey to meet some visionary creators, and their equally obsessive collectors and enthusiasts.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0 ... nside_Out/

Duration 70 minutes - Available until 10:44 PM Tue, 10 Dec 2013
 

GNC

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#19
I didn't even notice that was on - thanks very much!
 

RyoHazuki

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#20
Back in the '90s, however: JC did it first 8)

I remember watching the series on TV, and I'm sure there were 5 or 6 episodes - I think the sequence is wrong too. Still remember it vividly as the first time I'd heard of outsider art, and some of the things they showed were just jaw-dropping (Salvation Mountain, anyone?) The series left me feeling quite sad too, in the knowledge that so many other pieces probably exist undiscovered, and unprotected from the philistines.
 

sherbetbizarre

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#22

Ermintruder

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#26
kamalktk said:
Janitor worked for seven years to draw an incredibly complicated maze.
Interesting. I am tempted to hope that it is, indeed, a real maze, and not just a doodle into infinity.

May I respectfully suggest that members of the forum have a look at this somewhat-more focused, and equally-stunning piece of art (trust me: it truly is worth looking at)

http://jaysimons.deviantart.com/art/Map-of-the-Internet-1-0-427143215


ps apologies for suddenly appearing in such a unheralded fashion. I've always been here, just unseen (that is, both in paper and pixel).

pps before I disappear back on to the Roundabout, I've just remembered about an FT story a good few years back, regarding another 'savant janitor', creating an astounding 'art installation' in his cellar at home. All thrones and minarets, I think. Was it not some astounding silver-foil and cardboard autistic homage to Egyptology, with a Crowleyan feel to it?
 

Ermintruder

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#28
Thank you for the welcome, ramonmercado. I've always read your contributions to the forum with anticipation and interest. I have been here since before the beginning (since the era of 'The News').

Anyone who seeks outsider/outlier/naiive art should enter the constant cornucopia that is deviantart.com. The most Fortean art website in this universe.

Perhaps I'll speak more, here, on the FT forum. At least for now.
 

Ermintruder

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#29
Ermintrude said:
pps before I disappear back on to the Roundabout, I've just remembered about an FT story a good few years back, regarding another 'savant janitor', creating an astounding 'art installation' in his cellar at home. All thrones and minarets, I think. Was it not some astounding silver-foil and cardboard autistic homage to Egyptology, with a Crowleyan feel to it?
Ah yes....now I remember

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Hampton_%28artist%29

James Hampton (April 8, 1909–November 4, 1964) was a janitor who secretly built a large assemblage of religious art from scavenged materials and is considered an outsider artist.....

.....In 1946, Hampton became a night janitor with the General Services Administration. His brother Lee died in 1948.

In 1950, he rented a garage in northwest Washington. A month after Hampton's death, Meyer Wertlieb, owner of the garage, came to find out why the rent had not been paid. He knew that Hampton had been building something in the garage. When he opened the door, he found a room filled with many symmetrical, glittering objects surrounding a central throne. For 14 years, Hampton had been building a throne out of various old materials like aluminum and gold foil, old furniture, various pieces of cardboard, old light bulbs, shards of mirror and old desk blotters. He had pinned it together with tacks, glue, pins and tape.

It is unknown whether Hampton considered himself an artist. Hampton's work would be an example of folk or naïve art — art made by people who are self-taught, who have not studied art techniques, art history, or art theory.[2]

The text The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly was written on the objects in Hampton's handwriting. He had emblazoned the words Fear Not above the central throne. The complete work consists of a total of 180 objects that were donated anonymously to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 1970. Many of them were inscribed with words from the Book of Revelation. The objects on the right side of the central throne appear to refer to the New Testament; those on the left side, to the Old Testament.

(click on the picture for a 1,609 × 1,081 pixel version, but be prepared to do nothing but stare in slack-jawed amazement for a long time)
 

rynner2

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#30
George W Bush paintings, review: 'all the hallmarks of outsider art'
Art critic Alastair Sooke gives his verdict on a set of portraits of world leaders, including Tony Blair, painted by former US president George W Bush
By Alastair Sooke
6:21PM BST 04 Apr 2014

It is notoriously hard to judge the merits of a painter without seeing his work at first-hand – unless the artist in question happens to be George W Bush. Since stepping down as America’s 43rd president in 2009, “Dubya” has occupied himself with learning how to paint. And when some of his pictures, including two extravagantly bizarre self-portraits of himself in his bathroom, were leaked online last year, his idiosyncratically naïve and skew-whiff style was plain for all to see.

It turns out that, whether artfully or not, Bush paints in a similar fashion to the way he talks – affecting a folksy, homespun, plain-speaking tone, with just enough ham-fisted strangeness and bungling missteps to keep things interesting. In fact, Bush’s paintings exhibit many of the hallmarks of so-called “outsider art” – which, as visitors to last summer’s Venice Biennale will know, is very modish at the moment within the world of contemporary art. As a result, while history is unlikely to be kind to his presidency, the man who once suffered the indignity of a poll branding him the most unpopular political leader in modern American history, is now finding favour as an artist. :roll:

Perhaps emboldened by the reception for his paintings, which ranged from gentle bemusement to tongue-in-cheek adulation from hipster website BuzzFeed, Bush decided to mount an exhibition containing more than two dozen of his painted portraits of world leaders at the George W Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.

The first image I looked for, inevitably, was that of Tony Blair. As an artist, Bush has earned a reputation for churning out kitsch images of dogs, including his beloved (and now dead) pet Scottish terrier, Barney. What would he make, then, of the man often characterised as “Bush’s poodle”? The answer, I am sad to report, is that Blair appears like a perfectly dignified statesman, if one with a noticeably receding hairline who has been positioned, inexplicably, off-centre towards the right of the image – a misguided pictorial decision that gives undue prominence to the distractingly bright background. I can’t help feeling that Bush missed a trick here.

As for the rest of the paintings, at the time of writing, it was only possible to inspect a selection of officially released photographs documenting the interior of the exhibition from afar. Still, several things were clear.

Although the exhibition, The Art of Leadership, is subtitled “A President’s Personal Diplomacy”, the pictures themselves generally present only the head, neck and shoulders of each leader, in the manner of an official portrait photograph. They thus appear copied rather than produced either from life or from a recollection of a private meeting. Any air of intimacy, informality or insight is markedly absent: most of the leaders wear a suit and tie, or similarly formal clothes typical of the culture they represent, alongside the fixed smile of the politician’s public persona.

Bush tries to brighten things up by presenting several of the leaders against backgrounds of flat colour ranging from green and yellow to turquoise, in a way that is reminiscent of paintings by the American Pop artist Alex Katz. (Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.) But this can’t hide the fact that these dreary and compositionally identical likenesses couldn’t feel more impersonal if they tried. Nothing here has the surprising interest or sense of uneasy psychological penetration of Bush’s bathroom self-portraits.

The one exception is Bush’s portrait of Putin, who has been given a grimacing, squished muzzle, and prominent rodent ears, against a purple background. There is something unconventional and compelling about this image, which has seemingly been informed by Bush’s study of Francis Bacon. Far from flattering the Russian autocrat, it suggests a strained, potentially bruising relationship between sitter and artist – offering a reminder that subtle foreign policy was never Bush’s strong suit. Yesterday, Bush was reported as saying that Putin had once insulted the diminutive stature of his pet dog, Barney. This portrait, then, is Bush’s revenge. It just goes to show: antagonise an artist, and he will disfigure you for eternity. :twisted:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/ ... r-art.html
 
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