Self-Taught Art: The Culture and Aesthetics of American Vernacular Art

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version
$40.00

edited by Charles Russell, hardcover
201 pages, University Press of Mississippi
With essays by Russell Bowman, Roger Cardinal, Arthur C. Danto, Ellen Dissanayake, Michael Owen Jones, Randall Morris, Sharon Patton, Charles Russell, Maude Southwell Wahlman, and Alison Weld.

The creators of self-taught art have no academic artistic training and little connection to the established traditions of Western art history. Yet their works have undeniable aesthetic impact.

What are the origins of the artists' aesthetic choices and strategies? How is artistic production shaped by the artist and the culture? By what standards are the works to be analyzed and judged? Answering such questions that the mainstream often asks, this collection of essays brings a clearer understanding of the purpose and the achievement of "outsider art."

It is the first book to give self-taught art the same degree of scholarly attention and critical thinking that mainstream art traditionally receives. It features the views of some of the most prominent critics of vernacular art and explores a wide range of subjects from a variety of critical approaches dealing with self-taught art in all its forms.

The ten critics explore the sources and contexts of creation, focus on the personal roots of creativity, and challenge the reductivist views that for too long have dominated discussions of self-taught art, particularly the African American vernacular.

Thirty-two full-color plates and seventy-two black-and-white photographs illuminate these essays with the work of America's most acclaimed self-taught artists--William Edmondson, Thornton Dial, Howard Finster, James "Son" Thomas, Mose Tolliver, Nellie Mae Rowe, Minnie Evans, Joseph Yoakum, Bill Traylor, and other such creators of art that challenges mainstream aesthetics.

Charles Russell, an associate professor of English at Rutgers University, is the associate director of the Rutgers Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience. His books include Poets, Prophets, and Revolutionaries: The Literary Avant-Garde from Rimbaud through Postmodernism and The Avant-Garde Today: An International Anthology.

List price: $50