Jonathan Griffin

Criticism and essays on art and culture

Tag: Jim Nutt

Lynne Cooke

Castle

James Castle, ‘Untitled (interior with piano)’ © James Castle Collection and Archive

In 2011, Lynne Cooke, then chief curator at Madrid’s Museo Reina Sofia, curated a show by the autodidact artist James Castle that, for her, questioned the received narratives of American art history.

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What Nerve!

Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence

What_Nerve-Nutt-Her_Face_Fits

Jim Nutt, Her Face Fits, 1968

The rambunctious exhibition “What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present” began life as an idea for a show about the Hairy Who. Seeking to broaden the scope of the project, curator Dan Nadel traced the lines of influence around the 1960s group of Chicago Imagists to include an alternative, subversive history of modern art that is little studied in art colleges and under-represented in museum collections. Read the rest of this entry »

On the Grotesque

Basil Wolverton, Heap, 1955
© The Wolverton Estate. Courtesy Gladstone Gallery, New York

The grotesque got its name by mistake. When, one day in fifteenth-century Rome, a young man fell into a hole in a hillside, he assumed he’d discovered a Roman grotto. He fetched a lantern and found wild frescoes over the grotto’s walls: half-human, half animal figures, with legs and arms transforming into curling vines or ornamental volutes. In fact, he had stumbled upon Nero’s buried Villa Aurea, the raised floor level giving the rooms a grotto-like appearance. Nevertheless, the term “grotteschi” stuck as a label for this newly discovered style that radically dissented from the classical restraint to which the Renaissance had hitherto adhered. Read the rest of this entry »