American Vernacular: New Discoveries in Folk, Self-Taught, and Outsider Sculpture

Frank Maresca, Author, Roger Ricco, Author, Roger Ricco, Joint Author Bulfinch Press $75 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8212-2780-0
The rise of interest in ""outsider"" art over the past decade is now largely a fait accompli, in part due to Maresca and Ricco, the authors of American Primitive and American Self-Taught, and now, a follow-up survey of under-recognized vernacular objects. This classy, beautifully designed catalogue reinforces the seriousness and value of the outsider tradition; it features 450 color illustrations of angels, birdbaths, carousel swans, phrenology heads and gospel organs that together constitute the true handmade visual inheritance of American history. Addressed largely to the educated art viewer, the book makes a good argument for expanding the bounds of serious art to include the sheet metal cutouts, weird figurines and duck decoys that it documents, in the end telling us something we might have guessed-namely, that artists have been drawing from these unrecognized traditions for many years. With magazines and museums now devoted to outsider art, and traces of outsider greats such as Henry Darger and Thornton Dial showing up in the work of young artists, future generations will no doubt need to look for other artistic genres to plumb; in the meantime, this gorgeous volume will prove popular to artists, collectors and art appreciaters alike.
Reviewed on: 09/01/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
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