Book Review: John Margolies, Roadside America

John Margolies, Roadside America, edited by Jim Heimann, with contributions by Phil Patton, C. Ford Peatross and photos by John Margolies. Taschen, 288 pages, about 400 color photos, 2010. ISBN: 978-3-8365-1173-5. Hard cover $39.99. The enthusiasm for vernacular expression that began flowering in the United States in the 1970s never quite gelled into a unified […]

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 […]