American Primitive

Roger Ricco, Author, Julia Weissman, With, Frank Maresca, With
Roger Ricco, Author, Julia Weissman, With, Frank Maresca, With Alfred A. Knopf $75 (290p) ISBN 978-0-394-54467-0
Reviewed on: 09/01/1988
Release date: 09/01/1988
The authors, dealers and collectors of American-folk art, here focus on creations that are macabre, visionary, offbeat, often fetish-like in their raw power. Many of the pieces are anonymous; most have never been exhibited or illustrated anywhere. The polychrome wood Baby in a Chair (found in upstate New York, late 19th cent.) has the magical potency of an African totem. Other compelling works are the phantasmagorical Janus-Faced Root Fantasy and a gaunt, Giacometti-like Scarecrow. The illustrations show amazing weathervanes, shop signs, decoys, face jugs, whirligigs, ships' figureheads, busts, canes, ballot boxes. Calling these pieces ``folk'' art obscures their significance, the authors insist, and this revelatory surveya major act of cultural restorationbrings to light a body of native American art with affinities to the primitivist-inspired modernism of European artists. (Oct.)
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