Book Review: Martin Ramirez: The Last Works

Martin Ramirez: The Last Works, by Brooke Davis Anderson, Richard Rodriguez and Wayne Thiebaud. Pomegranate, 160 pages, 136 illustrations, 2008. ISBN 978-0-7649-4695-0 The ratio of text to photos in this second major volume dedicated to Martin Ramirez is low, and that comes as a relief to someone who feels compelled to read books front to […]

Book Review: Painting a Hidden Life: The Art of Bill Traylor

Painting a Hidden Life: The Art of Bill Traylor, by Mechal Sobel. LSU Press, 256 pages, 46 illustrations, 2009. ISBN 978-0-8071-3401-6 Pity the poor dead outsider artist. Odds are good you’ve been reduced to a collection of anecdotes gathered by an early collector or dealer then recycled, with declining fidelity, through biographical capsules, reviews and […]

Book Review: Follies of Europe – Architectural Extravaganzas

Follies of Europe: Architectural Extravaganzas, by Nic Barlow, Caroline Holmes and Tim Knox. Garden Art Press, 256 pages, 286 color illustrations, 2008. ISBN 1-87067-356-5 In the United States, writing on the environments of self-taught artists tends to place them within the outsider art context or, sometimes, within a specifically American tradition of individual expression. Follies […]

Book Review: Collecting Madness – Outsider Art from the Dammann Collection

Collecting Madness: Outsider Art from the Dammann Collection, by Thomas Röske, Bettina Brand-Claussen, Gerhard Dammann and others. Catalog by the Prinzhorn Collection, 224 pages, 101 illustrations, 2006. ISBN: 3-88423-265-7 It may seem like a cheap shot to call this volume schizophrenic, but between its own punning title and its divided sense of purpose, the description […]

Book Review: The Air Loom and Other Dangerous Influencing Machines

Book Review: The Air Loom and Other Dangerous Influencing Machines, by Thomas Röske, Bettina Brand-Claussen and others. Catalog by the Prinzhorn Collection, 256 pages, 92 illustrations, 2006. ISBN: 3-88423-237-1. This book, also a catalog for an exhibit at the Prinzhorn Collection, is even more focused on psychiatric issues than the Collecting Madness volume. In an […]

Character Assassination: Colorful Apocalypse Review

The Colorful Apocalypse: Journeys in Outsider Art, by Greg Bottoms, University of Chicago Press, 200 pages, 2007. ISBN 978-0-226-06685-1 As an outsider to outsider art, Greg Bottoms is in a great position to ask uncomfortable questions that might otherwise run afoul of the field’s shibboleths and loyalties. Unfortunately, the questions he asks in this book […]

Of Context and Privilege: Southern Self-Taught Art

Sacred and Profane: Voice and Vision in Southern Self-Taught Art, Edited by Carol Crown and Charles Russell, University Press of Mississippi, 308 pages, 2007. ISBN 1-57806-916-5 (hardcover) This book is definitely not bound for the coffee table, with its undersized images and serious, occasionally turgid, prose. But that’s not the point of this art book, […]