Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Category: World of Interiors


A Century of Art by Self-Taught and Outsider Artists

by Charles Russell; Prestel, New York

Some call it outsider art; others prefer self-taught. Still others insist on distinguishing between folk art and naïve art, or the less pejorative terms vernacular art and visionary art. Then there’s Art Brut, Neuve Invention and art therapy. Confusion and disagreement have come to reign over this fervently debated world. Charles Russell’s authoritative new survey attempts to clear up some of the muddle. Read the rest of this entry »

Peter Shire

Photograph: Tim Street Porter

Mid-Century Modified


‘The famous photograph’, as Peter Shire calls it, hangs over the dining table in his Los Angeles home. It shows the moment that his parents, Henry and Barbara, first met. The story is almost too good to be true: she was working for the San Francisco longshoremen’s union, he for IATSE – the union for technicians working in the theatre and entertainment industries. At a longshoremen’s fundraiser, a photographer snapped Henry delivering magazines to Barbara’s table. This being 1946, the early days of McCarthyism and Communist paranoia, the photographer sent one copy of his picture to Peter’s parents and one to the FBI. Peter, an artist famous for his work with the 1980s’ design collective Memphis, was born about nine months later.

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