ARTBOOK LOGO

ARTBOOK BLOG

RECENT POSTS

DATE 12/14/2018

A remarkable new monograph from Tod Papageorge is one of our Staff Pick Holiday Gift Books, 2018!

DATE 12/13/2018

Ruin the Yuletide with 'We Do Christmas'!

DATE 12/12/2018

A smile is the only possible outcome to 'Robots 1:1'

DATE 12/11/2018

Hard to Read presents 'The Disco Files' at Le Bain with Vince Aletti, Matthew Higgs, Danny Krivit and others!

DATE 12/11/2018

"Sweet dreams, kiddies."
—Love, R. Crumb

DATE 12/10/2018

Shopping for a playful design sophisticate? Look no further!

DATE 12/8/2018

Experimentation and contemplation in 'Led Zeppelin by Led Zeppelin'

DATE 12/7/2018

Back in Stock! 'Voguing and the House Ballroom Scene of New York City 1989-92'

DATE 12/6/2018

Join Artbook @ Art Basel Miami Beach 2018!

DATE 12/6/2018

'The Swimming Pool in Photography' is a Staff Favorite Holiday Gift Book, 2018

DATE 12/4/2018

Luc Sante picks 'Shomei Tomatsu' for the 'New York Times Book Review' Holiday Gift Guide

DATE 12/4/2018

Coleen Sterritt book launch at Artbook at Hauser & Wirth Bookstore, LA

DATE 12/3/2018

Roy DeCarava and Langston Hughes' 'Sweet Flypaper of Life' featured in The New York Times Book Review

DATE 12/3/2018

We ❤️ Karen Green's 'Frail Sister'

DATE 12/2/2018

Precog Mag launch, screening and performance at MoMA PS1 Book Space

DATE 12/2/2018

MoMA PS1 Book Space launches 'Bricks from the Kiln' #3

DATE 12/1/2018

Time stops in Holiday Gift Staff Pick 'Evelyn Hofer: New York'

DATE 12/1/2018

Design as an Attitude: Alice Rawsthorn in Conversation with Paola Antonelli at MoMA

DATE 12/1/2018

Rachel Cobb presents 'Mistral' at Albertine

DATE 12/1/2018

Dashwood Books celebrates The Ice Plant with Melissa Catanese, Michael Schmelling & Jake Longstreth signings

DATE 12/1/2018

Bonnie Marranca, Omar Berrada, Susan Bee, Stephen Motika, and Joan Retallack celebrate 'Etel Adnan: The Sun on the Tongue' at MoMA PS1 Book Space

DATE 12/1/2018

The Brother In Elysium Books celebrates Dick Higgins' Selected Writings and 10 Years of Siglio Press

DATE 11/30/2018

'Rachel Cobb: Mistral' captures the legendary wind of Provence

DATE 11/29/2018

Music lovers, rejoice! An expanded edition of Vince Aletti's "Disco Files" is out now.

DATE 11/29/2018

Steve Clay, Joshua Beckman, Steve McCaffery & Tracie Morris celebrate Dick Higgins' Selected Writings at Poets House

DATE 11/29/2018

Michael Roberts and Grace Coddington to launch 'GingerNutz Takes Paris' at Bookmarc NYC

DATE 11/28/2018

Sartorial mastery in 'Italian Tailoring'

DATE 11/27/2018

Give 'Viktor & Rolf: Fashion Artists 25 Years' to the Fashionista on your list!

DATE 11/27/2018

Ed Templeton signing at Arcana: Books on the Arts

DATE 11/26/2018

Conversation and Book Launch with Tania Bruguera and Hans Ulrich Obrist at Americas Society

DATE 11/26/2018

Frédéric Lagrange's deluxe, oversized 'Mongolia' is a Staff Pick Holiday Gift for the Jetsetter

DATE 11/25/2018

ARTFORUM reviews 'Intermedia, Fluxus and the Something Else Press: Selected Writings by Dick Higgins' for ARTFORUM

DATE 11/22/2018

Happy Thanksgiving from ARTBOOK | D.A.P.

DATE 11/22/2018

Vienna Secession magic in 'Ver Sacrum'

DATE 11/21/2018

'James Turrell: Extraordinary Ideas—Realized' is a WSJ Best Holiday Gift Book

DATE 11/20/2018

What a life! 'Ralph Gibson: Self-Exposure'

DATE 11/19/2018

Lydia Kallipoliti asks, "What is the Power of Shit?"

DATE 11/18/2018

The exquisite Arts and Crafts Jewelry of once-Puritan Boston

DATE 11/17/2018

Gorgeous 'Brassaï' book is a Staff Favorite Holiday Gift, 2018

DATE 11/16/2018

Wonderful, decadent Brassaï show opens at SFMOMA

DATE 11/15/2018

Holiday Gift Staff Pick 'Ed Templeton: Tangentially Parenthetical' is NEW from Um Yeah Arts

DATE 11/15/2018

Provocation and inspiration in 'David Casavant Archive'

DATE 11/14/2018

For the Music Lover or Cinephile

DATE 11/14/2018

Too Big: Rebuild by Design’s Transformative Response to Climate Change at National Building Museum

DATE 11/13/2018

Yoshimi Hasegawa to launch 'Italian Tailoring' with Simone Ubertino Rosso & Justin MacInerney at Rizzoli

DATE 11/13/2018

All hail Andy Warhol

DATE 11/12/2018

Andy Warhol, all the way

DATE 11/12/2018

Ralph Gibson to launch 'Self-Exposure' in conversation with Laurie Anderson at The Strand

DATE 11/11/2018

Holiday Gift Staff Pick 'The New Tide' presents Gordon Parks' early work, 1940–1950

DATE 11/10/2018

Celebrate the Centennial of Sister Corita!

DATE 11/10/2018

For the Design Devotee


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