Feature Articles

January 2011

Duke University in Durham, NC, Offers Outsider Art from its Permanent Collection

Duke University in Durham, NC, is present the exhibit, Angels, Devils and the Electric Slide: Outsider Art from the Permanent Collection, on view at The Nasher Museum of Art through July 8, 2012.

The Nasher Museum presents an installation of works from the permanent collection that complements the exhibition Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance, Joy. Both Calder and the artists in this exhibition share the practice of incorporating found objects and unusual materials in their work.

Angels, Devils and the Electric Slide: Outsider Art from the Permanent Collection includes works by Outsider artists Minnie Black, the Rev. Howard Finster, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Mose Tolliver and Purvis Young. Outsider art refers to the visionary work of contemporary artists who have never had formal training. The artists in the exhibition hail from across the Southeastern United States, and their art ranges from painting to ceramics to sculpture in wood or metal. All of their works give voice to an interior world - those personal fantasies, meditations on everyday life and unspoken fears - that most people cannot put into words or images.

In every case, the artists used unique materials and creative processes to make their art. Whereas Jimmy Lee Sudduth finger-painted with pigment-tinted mud, Hubert Walters fashioned his Passenger Ship out of discarded furniture pieces and Bondo - an industrial putty that is a staple of auto body shops and carpenter tool sheds.

The artists on view in Outsider Art also share something beyond their often improvisational methods of art-making: Their works are woven together by common threads such as religion, the mystical world of animals, pop culture and icons of American history. While Howard Finster and Fred Webster give us folksy depictions of the Angel Gabriel, Mose Tolliver delivers an unprecedented interpretation of George Washington. Artists Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Charles Kinney and Annie Lucas, meanwhile, capture the magic of crowing roosters, wild cats and fantastic beasts native only to the mind’s eye.

Outsider Art demonstrates the innovative strategies and imaginative visual languages that result when Outsider artists follow their irrepressible artistic impulses. It includes gifts and promised gifts from Bruce Lineker, New York, and the Rubell Family Collection, Miami.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Museum at 919/684-5135 or visit (www.nasher.duke.edu).

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