Tin Man

Tin Man

5.0 1
by Charlie Lucas, Ben Windham

Showcases the extraordinary life and work of an internationally significant Alabama folk artist.

Charlie Lucas is a self-taught artist. Although he has made art since childhood, only since a debilitating accident in 1984 did Lucas turn to art seriously as a form of personal expression. He has since become recognized nationally and internationally as a

…  See more details below


Showcases the extraordinary life and work of an internationally significant Alabama folk artist.

Charlie Lucas is a self-taught artist. Although he has made art since childhood, only since a debilitating accident in 1984 did Lucas turn to art seriously as a form of personal expression. He has since become recognized nationally and internationally as a great innovator in the field of American folk art.

From his workshop in Pink Lily, Alabama--a rural wonderland of objects, sculptures, paintings, buildings, and installations--Charlie Lucas makes his art from materials that others have discarded (as he himself believes he was once discarded): old tin, bicycle wheels, shovels, car mufflers, tractor seats, metal banding, wire, and gears. His work is visionary, in every sense of the word, each creation the result of an intense communion with his heritage, ancestors, race, family, and his own choices in life. Every work is imbued with a story.

With more than 200 vivid color photographs--of the artist at work, his studio environments, and his finished creations--Tin Man presents Lucas through his own words and stories--his troubled and impoverished childhood, his self-awakening to the depths of his own artistic vision, his perseverance through years of derision and misapprehension, and the salvation that has come through international acclaim and recognition, love of family, and his role as a teacher of children.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher


"Tin Man is a frustratingly missed opportunity. Divided into two major sections, the book consists of an as-told-to autobiography of artist Charlie Lucas (based on interviews with journalist Ben Windham) and a portfolio of his works. Narrated by Lucas, a southern, African American, self-taught artist, the autobiography emphasizes tales of hardship and deprivation from his childhood through his early adulthood. Curiously absent is any reference by Lucas to the fraught ways in which he experienced the politics and economics of the contemporary art world. Lucas's observations on his work are few and opaque. The even fewer editorial interventions simply gesture at mainstream Western artists like Alexander Calder and William Blake. The absence of an introduction that could have provided context for Lucas's recollections and explained the larger purpose of this book renders the overall narrative largely inaccessible except to the author and his circle. The gallery of works constituting the second half of Charlie Lucas is even more problematic. Works are identified by name only, with no reference to date, medium, scale, or provenance--omissions that render the images of little value for readers interested in Lucas's art. Summing Up: Not recommended."

“[Tin Man is] a highly readable and gloriously beautiful book that provides the next best experience to seeing the works at Lucas's home in Pink Lily. Tin Man will be treasured by fans of folk art, but anyone with an interest in Alabama culture and the social and economic conditions that have produced numerous nationally known self-taught artists will find it rewarding.”—The Alabama Review

"Charlie Lucas's sculptures are like kudzu: they remold the silhouette of an object, casting it in a different light. His subjects are the African mask, the slave, chains from the past, and the industrial future. His totem-like figures trace Alabama's Native American culture though the blood-baths and bloodstreams, wrought and welded in iron and steel. His junkyard complex comprising acres of rusting machine bits, sculptures, and the occasional grazing cow, is as terrifying as it is beautiful, and it reminds us what happens to man and his inventions when nature has 'had enough.'"—NALL

“This Art-with-a-capital-A book is an astutely synchronized compilation of as-told-to autobiography that often reads like music sounds, and brilliant images that look as if they might leap off the pages. In fifteen triumphant chapters, Ben Windham has corralled the essence of wit and wisdom, creative energy, and life-experience of internationally known folk artist Charlie Lucas.”—Julia Oliver for Alabama Writers Forum

Library Journal
Contemporary self-taught folk artist Lucas (b. 1951), sculptor-poet of Pink Lily, AL, began his artistic career after a disabling injury in 1984. He fashions scraps of metal, wood, textiles, and other found objects into collages, mobiles, and wire sculptures, some of which bear a passing resemblance to rougher versions of works by Alexander Calder. In the introduction to this book, Robert Farris Thompson (art history, Yale) claims that Lucas's true masterpieces are life-sized horses shaped and welded from rusty metal bands. The text consists of interviews by Lucas that explain his art and life philosophy. The second half, "Art Gallery," features color reproductions that cover the range of the artist's oeuvre. Although principally an Alabama artist, Lucas has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and these interviews reveal both a charmingly earnest artist and a well-grounded human being. VERDICT Readership includes students of contemporary "outsider" art, in particular those with an interest in the American South.—Russell T. Clement, Northwestern Univ. Lib., Evanston, IL

Read More

Product Details

University of Alabama Press
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.20(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Chip Cooper is Artist-in-Residence in the Honors College at The University of Alabama and coauthor of Silent in the Land and Common Threads: Photographs and Stories from the South.
Ben Windham is the former editorial page editor ofThe Tuscaloosa News.

Robert Farris Thompson is the Colonel John Trumball Professor of the History of Art at YaleUniversity and the author of Flash of the Spirit.

Georgine Clarke is Visual Arts Program Manager at the Alabama State Council on the Arts and founding Director of the Kentuck Arts Festival in Northport, Alabama.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Tin Man 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
DrThelmaMueller More than 1 year ago
This is an absolutely beautiful, awe-inspiring account of the creative process in a unique primitive artist. The quality of Ben Windham's interviews with Mr. Lucas reach a depth unparaelled in the usual accounts of artists works. The photographs are magnificent. I am totally overwhelmed by this book! Dr. Thelma V. Mueller, Associate Professor Emerita, University of Alabama