Self-Taught Art: The Culture and Aesthetics of American Vernacular Art / Edition 1

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Overview

With essays by Russell Bowman, Roger Cardinal, Arthur C. Danto, Ellen Dissanayake, Michael Owen Jones, Randall Morris, Sharon Patton, Charles Russell, Maude Southwell Wahlman, and Alison Weld

The creators of self-taught art have no academic artistic training and little connection to the established traditions of Western art history. Yet their works have undeniable aesthetic impact.

What are the origins of the artists' aesthetic choices and strategies? How is artistic production shaped by the artist and the culture? By what standards are the works to be analyzed and judged? Answering such questions that the mainstream often asks, this collection of essays brings a clearer understanding of the purpose and the achievement of "outsider art."

It is the first book to give self-taught art the same degree of scholarly attention and critical thinking that mainstream art traditionally receives. It features the views of some of the most prominent critics of vernacular art and explores a wide range of subjects from a variety of critical approaches dealing with self-taught art in all its forms.

The ten critics explore the sources and contexts of creation, focus on the personal roots of creativity, and challenge the reductivist views that for too long have dominated discussions of self-taught art, particularly the African American vernacular.

Thirty-two full-color plates and seventy-two black-and-white photographs illuminate these essays with the work of America's most acclaimed self-taught artists--William Edmondson, Thornton Dial, Howard Finster, James "Son" Thomas, Mose Tolliver, Nellie Mae Rowe, Minnie Evans, Joseph Yoakum, Bill Traylor, and other such creators of art that challenges mainstream aesthetics.

Charles Russell, an associate professor of English at Rutgers University, is the associate director of the Rutgers Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience. His books include Poets, Prophets, and Revolutionaries: The Literary Avant-Garde from Rimbaud through Postmodernism and The Avant-Garde Today: An International Anthology.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Contrary to other recent publications on vernacular and outsider art (e.g., Anthony Petullo's Self-Taught and Outsider Art: The Anthony Petullo Collection, LJ 12/01; Lynne E. Spriggs & others' Let It Shine: Self-Taught Art from the T. Marshall Hahn Collection, Univ. of Mississippi, 2001), this book is not a compilation of artist biographies or an illustrative exhibition catalog. Instead, these 11 essays written by ten critics, including academics, independent scholars, an artist, and a writer provide a rich, balanced anthology of current criticism, analysis, aesthetics, and philosophy regarding self-taught art. Russell's (The Avant-Garde Today) essay, "Finding a Place for the Self-Taught," provides a comprehensive introduction to the subject while clearing up disputes over "term warfare" endemic to the field and relieving confusion between high "academic" and low "outsider" art. Notes and illustrations accompany several of the well-written essays, most of which are quite clear and accessible to those unfamiliar with art terminology. Though the index in the uncorrected proof would benefit from expansion, the section listing the works cited includes an impressive number of books and journal articles that facilitate further research. Highly recommended for academic libraries, especially those with popular, folk, outsider, and self-taught art collections. (Final photographs and index not seen.) Rebecca Tolley-Stokes, East Tennessee State Univ. Lib., Johnson City Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781578063802
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
  • Publication date: 11/6/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Finding a Place for the Self-Taught in the Art World(s) 3
Very Like Art: Self-Taught Art from an Ethological Perspective 35
The Aesthetics of Everyday Life 47
Outsider Art 61
The Self in Self-Taught Art 68
Imaging the Academy: "Naive" Art and the Mainstream 81
Memory Painting 95
The One and the Many: Manifest Destiny and the Internal Landscape 117
Spiritual Visions and Allegory in Contemporary African-American Folk Painting 129
African Charm Traditions Remembered in the Arts of the Americas 146
The Aesthetic Language of Self-Taught Art 166
Notes 177
Works Cited 183
Contributors 193
Index 195
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