Great and Mighty Things: Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection

Great and Mighty Things: Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection

by Ann Percy
     
 

The contemporary art world has been challenged and invigorated by outsider art—works by self-taught practitioners who, by definition, have little to do with mainstream art production, but are nonetheless actively engaged with the visual culture of their time and place.

This is the first book to explore the collection of Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz, one of the

Overview

The contemporary art world has been challenged and invigorated by outsider art—works by self-taught practitioners who, by definition, have little to do with mainstream art production, but are nonetheless actively engaged with the visual culture of their time and place.

This is the first book to explore the collection of Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz, one of the finest private collections of American outsider art. Twenty-seven artists are included in the selection published here, among them Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, William Edmondson, Howard Finster, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Martín Ramírez, and Bill Traylor. The book presents short biographies of the artists and essays by major scholars that examine the work from both theoretical and historical perspectives, with a particular focus on the relationship of contemporary art to outsider art and how the latter has been critically appropriated into postmodern discourse. Renowned artist Francesco Clemente’s fascinating essay places these so-called outsiders in the mystical tradition of Jacob Boehme, Emanuel Swedenborg, and William Blake.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Accompanying an exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, this volume celebrates the artistically diverse "outsider" artists that comprise the Bonovitz Collection, one of the most extensive of its kind. The included artists worked outside of the conventional art establishment—making street corners into galleries or discarded roofing into canvases, for instance—before being brought into the art market by collectors and curators, often posthumously. The catalogue itself is the book's heart, offering lavish reproductions alongside brief notes on the artists' biographies and methods. The works are smartly presented with little context outside of the biographical, encouraging the art to be considered for its visual qualities. A series of essays expands upon the questions raised by categorizing the work, both to the art itself and to the institutionalized art world; particularly useful are Francesco Clemente's lyric take on the visionary yet human impulse of the outsider artist, and Joanne Cubbs's articulation of the Black South's crucial importance to outsider art. The collection amassed by Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz offers only a glimpse at the thriving worlds of outsider art, but it's a glimpse that is invaluable, refreshing, and thrilling. Color illustrations. (Apr.)
New York Times - Roberta Smith

“an exceptional catalog.” —Roberta Smith, New York Times

Choice

“This well thought out and skillfully executed book introduces one of the country’s finest collections of outsider. . .art”—Choice

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780300191752
Publisher:
Yale University Press
Publication date:
04/28/2013
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
9.80(w) x 12.00(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Ann Percy is curator of drawings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Cara Zimmerman is executive director of the Foundation for Self-Taught Artists in Philadelphia.

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