ARTBOOK LOGO

ARTBOOK BLOG

RECENT POSTS

DATE 2/26/2019

Jean-Philippe Delhomme to launch 'Artists' Instagrams' at Bookmarc NYC

DATE 2/14/2019

Love, Hate and Other Mysteries: Valentine's Day Picks 2019

DATE 2/13/2019

Give 'The Archisutra' to your cheeky, high-design Valentine

DATE 2/13/2019

Artbook @ MoMA PS1 presents Tosh Berman and Andrew Lampert on Growing Up in Wallace Berman’s World

DATE 2/12/2019

Dennis Scholl, Kareem Tabsch & Brett Sokol present 'Shtetl in the Sun' & 'The Last Resort' at The Coral Gables Art Cinema, FL

DATE 2/11/2019

Join Artbook | D.A.P. at the 2019 CAA Conference in NY

DATE 2/11/2019

A Guy Bourdin Fashion Week Valentine

DATE 2/9/2019

Piotr Uklanski to sign 'Pornalikes' at Dashwood

DATE 2/9/2019

'Furniture Boom' brings the golden age of Danish furniture design to life

DATE 2/8/2019

A transcendental dimension in 'Mona Kuhn: She Disappeared in Complete Silence'

DATE 2/7/2019

Defiant humor in 'Greetings from the Barricades: Revolutionary Postcards in Imperial Russia'

DATE 2/6/2019

'The Object of Zionism: The Architecture of Israel' is a stunning, critical colossus

DATE 2/5/2019

'Alternate worlds that surpass the imagination' in Keiichi Tanaami's early Pop collages

DATE 2/3/2019

'Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future' is Back in Stock!

DATE 2/2/2019

Graffiti alphabet 'The ABCs of Style' is "a Baby Einstein-like book for the streetwise set"

DATE 2/1/2019

It's NATION TIME! Celebrate Black History Month with 'Soul of a Nation'

DATE 1/31/2019

A clear unspoken granted magic in 'Amy Sherald'

DATE 1/30/2019

'Andrey Tarkovsky: Life and Work' pays homage to a Russian visionary of near biblical intensity

DATE 1/29/2019

Fascinating vernacular photos of cross-dressing Nazis in 'Soldier Studies'

DATE 1/28/2019

A stellar feat of art book publishing in 'Brancusi & Duchamp'

DATE 1/27/2019

'Brutal Bloc Postcards' collects rare and previously unpublished vintage postcards from the Eastern Bloc

DATE 1/26/2019

Graciela Iturbide, Mexico and Death

DATE 1/25/2019

You're invited to our Los Angeles Showroom Winter Sample Sale!

DATE 1/25/2019

A landmark survey of Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico photographs

DATE 1/24/2019

Join us at SHOPPE OBJECT 2.0 Independent Home & Gift Show, 2019!

DATE 1/24/2019

We will miss Jonas Mekas, artist, filmmaker and champion of avant-garde cinema

DATE 1/23/2019

Ruby Ray photographed punk and industrial culture in late '70s and early '80s San Francisco

DATE 1/22/2019

We can't get enough of Mahesh Shantaram's 'Matrimania'

DATE 1/21/2019

Celebrate Martin Luther King Day with 'Builder Levy: Humanity in the Streets'

DATE 1/18/2019

Lynda Benglis on "philosopher purist" Paul Mogensen

DATE 1/17/2019

'Cabin Fever' is one of the coolest, most giftable books on our list this year

DATE 1/16/2019

Three emerging painters in 'True Colours'

DATE 1/15/2019

Hans J. Wegner and other masters of Danish "golden-age" chair design are collected in this chic compendium

DATE 1/14/2019

Painting as emancipation in Niko Pirosmani

DATE 1/13/2019

Opera and nature in Beatriz Milhazes's collages

DATE 1/12/2019

Impossible not to love: 'Beatriz Milhazes: Collages'

DATE 1/12/2019

Commemorate Black History Month with these 2019 Staff Picks

DATE 1/11/2019

'Shtetl in the Sun' is a Staff Favorite for 2019

DATE 1/10/2019

An awkward, spellbinding document, 'Party! Party!! Party!!!' captures unselfconscious German decadence in Weimar Germany

DATE 1/9/2019

Ahh, the freedom in Frank Habicht's Sixties

DATE 1/9/2019

Ed Templeton signing 'Tangentially Parenthetical' at Park Life

DATE 1/5/2019

Joshua Sperling to launch "A Writer of Our Time: The Life and Work of John Berger" at Artbook at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles

DATE 1/4/2019

Janet Clare to launch "Time is the Longest Distance" at Artbook at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles

DATE 1/1/2019

The Class of 2018: Critics' Picks and Future Backlist Classics

DATE 12/21/2018

May the new year bring you unfathomable adventure! Happy holidays from ARTBOOK | D.A.P.

DATE 12/19/2018

What to give the photographer who has everything

DATE 12/18/2018

A facsimile of a rare 1900 children's book of 'Elfin Rhymes' is new from Art / Books

DATE 12/17/2018

Every day is a “ME” day with Sherrie Levine's 'Diary 2019'

DATE 12/16/2018

James Welling captures the culture of MoMA's Sculpture Garden in 'Oasis in the City'

DATE 12/16/2018

Give 'Michael Jackson: On the Wall' to the art and music lover on your list!

DATE 12/15/2018

Book trailer magic: 'Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin'


BOOKS IN THE MEDIA

CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 10/28/2014

Grotesque, Garish, Exuberant American Art: 'What Nerve!' in the NYRB

In today's New York Review of Books online, J. Hoberman writes, "What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present, the provocatively titled exhibit at the RISD Museum in Providence, presents a bracing counter to one prevailing way of telling the story of postwar American art. Somewhat simplified, this traditional account holds that European Surrealism led to Abstract Expressionism, which led to Pop Art and Minimalism, which were followed by Earth Art, Body Art, and Conceptual Art, the return of expressive painting, and so on up to the present, when no one city nor any single movement reigns supreme: a thousand flowers bloom."

Grotesque, Garish, Exuberant American Art: 'What Nerve!' in the NYRB
Karl Wirsum: "Junior Messing with the Kid" (1968)

But What Nerve!, organized by Dan Nadel with Judith Tannenbaum, argues that it was ever thus, and in Nadel’s words, “proposes an alternate history of figurative painting, sculpture and vernacular image-making that has been largely overlooked and undervalued relative to the canon of Modernist abstraction and Conceptual art.” There’s a healthy truculence to the premise and much of the work as well. Indeed, the show immediately engages the eye with two bumptious works of dissident splendor. The seventeen lithographs of H.C. Westermann’s corrosive, cartoony See America First series, stripped down travel posters for a dead land, get an additional zetz of Coney Island sensationalism from their proximity to Peter Saul’s blithely outrageous, biomorphic construction in enamel and plastic coated Styrofoam, Man in Electric Chair (1966).

As What Nerve! shows, mutated versions of Surrealism and Pop Art and tendencies without a name arose and flourished outside of New York and Los Angeles throughout the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s in the work of groups such as Chicago’s Hairy Who (most active in the mid 1960s), Detroit’s Destroy All Monsters (which coalesced a decade later), Providence’s Forcefield (who came together in the 1990s), and the Bay Area 'funk' artists (named for a 1967 museum show and less a clique than a curator-defined association). Many attended art school together. Young and defiantly provincial, these artists were represented by small galleries or none at all. They made their own scenes, working in styles antithetical to the established canon. As precursors or fellow travelers the show proposes six additional figures: William Copley, Elizabeth Murray, Christina Ramberg, H.C. Westermann, painter-cartoonist-designer Gary Panter, and, most radically, comic-book illustrator Jack Kirby—all (save Murray) figurative artists, flirting with the outré or crackpot in making use of caricature, outsider art, doodles, and other vernacular styles.

Generally speaking, the art is grotesque, garish and exuberant, cranky, sometimes menacing, often hilarious and, in the case of the Hairy Who and Destroy All Monsters, particularly fresh. Much could be considered representational, albeit with a fondness for squiggly, tubular forms and faces that suggest something splattered against a wall. Vectors abound. Hairy Who member Karl Wirsum’s near-psychotic images of trippy, patterned faces are placed in dialogue with Kirby’s painstaking ink and water-color portraits of nascent super-heroes.

A visiting art class spent almost their entire time in the gallery in the Kirby corner the day I was there. At once the most commercial and most outside artist in the show, Kirby apparently made these studies for himself. The earliest, Metron (1969), is, upon close examination, an extremely fastidious collage; another, the intricately patterned, immaculately detailed, elegantly robo-Cubist Dream Machine (1970-75) confounds description as well as scale. (Epic by comic book standards, it has a pleasingly miniaturized feel as a framed painting.)

The fetish quality evident in Kirby’s work is present in much of the show. In somewhat opposing ways, Copley and Ramberg reference porn magazines. In its juxtaposition of sci-fi props and Andean costumes, Forcefield’s work seems conceived under the spell of Erich von Daniken, the Swiss author of best-selling books suggesting extraterrestrial influence on early human culture. Not just the work of deserved art stars Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw (makers of drawings, collages and mixed media assemblages)—but just about everything associated with Destroy All Monsters is perfumed with eau of Salvation Army thrift store: a wall of Cary Loren’s distressed photographs, many of them costumed glamor shots, segues into the non-ironic goth art of his frequent subject Niagara, inventor of her own pre-Raphaelite art brut.

Grotesque, Garish, Exuberant American Art: 'What Nerve!' in the NYRB
H. C. Westermann: "See America First" (1968)

The Hairy Who and Destroy All Monsters both produced zines, on display in vitrines. It must have been hard for Nadel, the editor of two exemplary anthologies of obscure or underappreciated comic- book artists, Art Out of Time: Unknown Visionary Cartoonists, 1900-1969 and Art in Time: Unknown Comic Book Adventures, 1940-1980, not to display their contents, which, among other things, include comic strips by the great Jim Nutt, whose painted splash page Backman (1966) is one of the show’s glories.

Still, to open up the zine would have been to open up the show to another direction, suggesting a parallel to the first wave of underground cartoonists—less R. Crumb than Robert Williams’s impacted chrome-scapes or the sex mandalas of psychedelic primitive Rory Hayes, an artist whose work Nadel has edited. Similarly, Gary Panter links not just to Kirby, whom he has acknowledged as an influence, but to the commercial collective that created Pee-wee’s Playhouse and the cohort of cartoonists published in RAW magazine, two 1980s artists’ groups in which he played a significant part.

To point this out is in no way a criticism of What Nerve! Ken Johnson said as much in his New York Times review, which also ended by suggesting related artists, to which I would add, looking forward by way of Elizabeth Murray, the painter-cartoonist Amy Sillman and back, through Loren’s photographs, the underground polymath Jack Smith, whom he sought out as a young artist. The urge to contribute to What Nerve! is a tribute to this super-charged show’s inspiring revisionist splendor.
Grotesque, Garish, Exuberant American Art: 'What Nerve!' in the NYRB
Grotesque, Garish, Exuberant American Art: 'What Nerve!' in the NYRB
Grotesque, Garish, Exuberant American Art: 'What Nerve!' in the NYRB
Grotesque, Garish, Exuberant American Art: 'What Nerve!' in the NYRB
Grotesque, Garish, Exuberant American Art: 'What Nerve!' in the NYRB
Grotesque, Garish, Exuberant American Art: 'What Nerve!' in the NYRB

What Nerve!

What Nerve!

RISD MUSEUM OF ART/D.A.P.
Pbk, 8.75 x 10.5 in. / 368 pgs / 300 color.

$39.95  free shipping





ARTBOOK LOGO
 
 

the art world's source for books on art & culture

  

CUSTOMER SERVICE
orders@artbook.com
212 627 1999
M-F 9-5 EST

TRADE ACCOUNTS

800 338 2665

CONTACT

JOBS + INTERNSHIPS

NEW YORK
Showroom by Appointment Only
75 Broad Street, Suite 630
New York NY 10004
Tel   212 627 1999

LOS ANGELES
Showroom by Appointment Only
818 S. Broadway, Suite 700
Los Angeles, CA 90014
Tel. 323 969 8985

ARTBOOK LLC
D.A.P. | Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.


All site content Copyright C 2000-2017 by Distributed Art Publishers, Inc. and the respective publishers, authors, artists. For reproduction permissions, contact the copyright holders.

ARTBOOK AMPERSAT

The D.A.P. Catalog
www.artbook.com