Crackpot Gothic

Shaw-jefferson-memorial_jpg_780x550_q85J. Hoberman at The New York Review of Books:

The term “outsider art” was coined in 1972 by the British art historian Roger Cardinal as a way to categorize work that might otherwise be described as naïve, fanatical, eccentric, autistic, or insane. The Los Angeles artist Jim Shaw is a connoisseur and collector of such things—he’s an esoteric populist who doesn’t only make art but, since he began exhibiting found “thrift store paintings” in 1991, has created his own tradition, an American vernacular surrealism that might be termed “crackpot gothic.”

“The End is Here,” which is the sixty-three-year-old artist’s first American retrospective, occupies three floors at the New Museum. The first floor is mainly devoted to Shaw’s paintings and drawings, which range from crude psychedelic mandalas and parodies of Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights to fastidious sketches of imaginary insects and distorted portraits of celebrities like Clint Eastwood.

The third floor features larger works—including muslin banners that, among other things, use the 1950s comic book character Plastic Man to suggest Picasso’s “Guernica,” and large free-standing pieces, full of discordant cartoon creatures and political caricatures, including a ski-nosed Richard Nixon, that have been fashioned from old wooden theatrical flats.

more here.