Outsider Art Fair
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New York 2014

OAF Talks

SATURDAY, MAY 10, 2014

2-3:30 pm, Center 548, Rooftop
Lost in Translation: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Self-Taught Artist

Panelists: Brooke Davis Anderson, Eric Fretz, Lenore Schorr, Xaviera Simmons
Moderator: Paul Laster

Reevaluating the life and career of Jean-Michel Basquiat, the panel will look at Basquiat’s early interest in art, his breakout work as the graffiti writer SAMO, his poetic use of found materials, his obsessive use of anatomy, the repetition of words and symbols in his work, his embrace of heroic figures, and the influence of Outsider artists on his work. A wunderkind that learned and synthesized his art from the masters and the street, Basquiat fascinated the art world during his decade reign and has risen to greater glories since his death. Responding to Basquiat's recent multimillion-dollar auction prices, the panel will also consider how the embrace and deification of the art market impacts self-taught artists and their place in art history.

Featuring panelists Brooke Davis Anderson, Prospect New Orleans director and former American Folk Art Museum curator; Eric Fretz, writer and author of the 2010 book Jean-Michel Basquiat: A Biography; Lenore Schorr, contemporary art collector and early supporter of Basquiat; Xaviera Simmons, artist whose solo shows include the Museum of Modern Art, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, and Contemporary Art Museum Houston, Moderated by Paul Laster, contributing writer at Time Out New York and Modern Painters and former PS1 Contemporary Art Center (now MoMA PS1) adjunct curator of photography.

Paul Laster
is a contributing editor at ArtAsiaPacific, FLATT Magazine, and ArtBahrain; a frequent contributor to Time Out New York, Modern Painters, and Art in America; a former adjunct curator at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center (now MoMAPS1); and a lecturer. While at Tony Shafrazi in the mid-1990s, he assisted on the Jean-Michel Basquiat catalogue raisonné, published by Galerie Enrico Navarra, and later lectured on Julian Schnabel's film Basquiat when the Jean-Michel Basquiat retrospective exhibition was at the Brooklyn Museum.

4 - 5:30 pm, Center 548, Rooftop
Henry Darger: 40 Years Later

This Anne Hill Blanchard symposium is sponsored by the American Folk Art Museum, New York
Organized and moderated by Valérie Rousseau, curator, art of the self-taught and art brut, American Folk Art Museum

Michael Bonesteel, art historian, adjunct assistant professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, author of Henry Darger: Selected Art and Writings (Rizzoli, 2000)
James Brett, The Museum of Everything, London
Jim Elledge, professor of English, Kennesaw State University, author of Henry Darger, Throwaway Boy. The Tragic Life of an Outsider Artist (Overlook Press, 2013)
Jane Kallir, co-director, Galerie St. Etienne, New York, independent curator, and author of publications on Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, and Grandma Moses

Our panelists will discuss their new studies on Henry Darger (1892–1973) and offer innovative avenues to understand this complex oeuvre. Where do we stand 37 years after The Realms of the Unreal at Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago – the first exhibition that publicly revealed his works and preceded dozens of international shows? What main conclusions emerged after the seminal contribution of John MacGregor (starting with “I See a World within the World: I Dream but Am Awake,” Parallel Visions, 1992)? Fifteen years after his first publication on Darger (2000), Michael Bonesteel will present his upcoming project (2015), which consists of a reordering of selected key episodes and extended passages from the Realms of the Unreal, that will relate major highlights of the 15,000-page saga. James Brett will explore the iconography and sources for sections in Darger’s artworks. Jane Kallir will approximate the chronological sequence in which Darger created his artworks, how they relate to his writings, and his overall development. Jim Elledge will underline aspects of Darger’s life as outlined in his recent book, specifically on the twelve-year-old Darger’s confinement to the Illinois Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children.

Curated Space

Baumann + Muksian
Outsider Art Fair, New York
Booth #202
May 8 - 11, 2014 

Baumann + Muksian is a temporary curatorial endeavor by Swiss curator Daniel Baumann and San Francisco based artist Aram Muksian. Invited by the Outsider Art Fair, it premiers the work of Californian researcher in metaphysics John Urho Kemp (1942-2010). Known to some as Crystal John, he was also a member of the Institute of Divine Metaphysical Research, a nonprofit, nondenominational organization teaching that the Creator's existence reveals itself in the designs of life and nature. It is Kemp’s seeking of revelations through meditation, metaphysics, patterns, formulas, and numbers that led to an extensive body of writing, calculations and drawings. Archived and brought to New York by Aram Muksian, hundreds of sheets with Kemp's cosmic and philosophical speculations will be made accessible for the first time. Superimposed over wallpaper by British artist Sarah Lucas (*1962) they will be paired with works by Mexican artist Dr. Lakra (*1972) and by Ohio based artist Lewis Smith (1907-1998).

The works of these three artists contrast with Kemp's mental world by being openly erotic and exuberant, and for their display of humor. Lucas, who in 2012 curated the Koestler Trust's 50th anniversary exhibition of art by prison inmates in London, contributes her wallpaper “Tits in Space,” which display pictures of breasts made out of cigarettes and can be understood as a resolute homage to burning desire. Her inclusion might mark the first ever participation of an insider artist at the Outsider Art Fair. The same is true for Dr. Lakra—albeit from a different angle. A draftsman and tattooist, he uses old medical illustrations and pictures from 1950s Mexican magazines to draw his motifs on pin-up girls, wrestlers, stars and starlets. Using his masterly line, Dr. Lakra turns their beauty and the period's reigning aesthetic into a carnivalesque, psychedelic and erotic Vaudeville. Lewis Smith, who lived secluded in the woods of Ohio, ventured into a similar world yet from a distinctively American background. On brown grocery bags and pieces of cardboard he draws muscular ladies in athletic poses or involved in carnal fights, alleys, wrestlers or panoramic drawings of diners with brawny barmaids and inscriptions like “Gypsy Gossip and Gospel” and “Our Girls Might Not Be The Best But They Carrie Heavy Socks.” The fifth element of this presentation consists of the word GOD built out of vintage Goodyear sign letters. Author and date of this work are unknown, but it asks the question where art has been made, by whom or why—or if it simply should read DOG.

From very different eras and backgrounds, these works share a common ground: a masterly executed disrespect for social conventions and artistic norms in search of enlightenment and artistic freedom.

- Daniel Baumann

Daniel Baumann is a Swiss art historian, critic and curator. He is the director of the Adolf Wölfli Foundation, Museum of Fine Arts in Bern, Switzerland. Together with Dan Byers and Tina Kukielski, he curated the 2013 Carnegie International at Carnegie Museum of Art. Baumann lives and works in Basel, Switzerland.

Aram Muksian is an American photographer, high school arts educator, and 2014 MFA candidate from the San Francisco Art Institute. Muksian currently lives and works in California.


John Urho Kemp

Dr. Lakra

Lewis Smith

Sarah Lucas

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