Art Brut III

 

Minnie-Evans-Untitled
Minnie-Evans-Untitled

In this third installment in the occasional series Art Brut (for further information please refer to the previous posts Art Brut and Art Brut II) I am concentrating on four extraordinary 20th Century African-American artists from the Southern States of the US.  Each artist concerns and insights are very different from one another, but they do share some of the overriding attributes common to art brut ; notably the urgent necessity to create, an obsessional desire to give shape and form to the inner realms of experience and vision as well as being late starters, who then prolifically produced exceptional works in a white hot blaze of inspiration.

Minnie Evans

Minnie Evans worked for most of her long life (she died in 1987 at the age of 95) as a domestic and gatekeeper at the Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, North Carolina. On Good Friday 1935 Evans heard a voice say, “Why don’t you draw or die?” so she completed her first drawing that day. However it would another five years before Evans begun drawing again but she never stopped afterwards. Initially Evans used crayons and wax then oils and mixed media collage. Characterised by religious imagery, lush psychedelic colours with faces and fauna emerging from the symmetrical abstract backgrounds  Evan’s gorgeous later compositions are truly a vision of Eden before the fall.

 

Minnie Evans-Untitled 1960
Minnie Evans-Untitled 1960
Minnie Evans-untitled c 1960
Minnie Evans-untitled c 1960
Minnie-Jones-Evans-Untitled-Night-with-angel-wings-surrounded-by-eyes-1963
Minnie-Jones-Evans-Untitled-Night-with-angel-wings-1963
Minnie Evans-Untitled 1973
Minnie Evans-Untitled 1973

J.B Murry

J.B Murry worked as a share-cropper and tenant farmer in Glascock County, Georgia for most of his life. At the age of 70, Murry experienced a vision of an eagle descending from the sun. This, Murry believed, was a message from God to spread the word through a ‘spirit script’ that combined asemic writing and abstract imagery, produced while in a trance. Although illiterate, Murry could decipher the language if he looked at the paintings through a glass of water. Murry gained a reputation as a mystic and people would visit to ask for benediction and protection from harmful forces.

J.B Murry
J.B Murry
J.B Murry-Untitled
J.B Murry-Untitled
J.B Murry-Spirit Script
J.B Murry-Spirit Script
J.B Murry
J.B Murry

Bill Traylor

Born into slavery in 1854 Bill Traylor worked most of his life on a plantation in Alabama. Without formal education and illiterate it wasn’t until Traylor moved to Montgomery at the age of 85 that he started creating, using found pencil stubs on bits of scrap cardboard. He was befriended  by the artist Charles Shannon who supplied him with brushes and paint. In a three year period he produced over 1,200 works, often of animals in silhouette or his memories of rural life.

Bill Traylor
Bill Traylor
Bill-Traylor-Rabbit
Bill-Traylor-Rabbit
Bill Traylor
Bill Traylor
Bill Traylor
Bill Traylor

 

Frank Jones

Frank Albert Jones was born in Texas in 1900 with a fetal membrane over his left eye (a caul), the mark of someone, it is frequently believed, that can see into the world of the spirits. Jones said that he saw his first haints (haunts or ghosts) at the age of  nine. After several prior imprisonments (though he always maintained his innocence) it was during his twenty year stretch for  murder that Jones, at the age of 64 first started drawing ‘devil houses’. During the next five years until his death Jones produced over 200 drawings, usually in black and red (smoke and fire, suitable colours for devils) of these intricate structures where the creatures, both charming and threatening, float in their cells. At first Jones signed the works with his prison number, 114591, until a fellow inmate taught him to write his own name.

Frank Jones
Frank Jones
Frank Jones
Frank Jones
Frank Jones
Frank Jones
Frank Jones
Frank Jones

 

 

 

Art Brut II

Blue Birds in the Tree-Scottie Wilson ca 1960
Blue Birds in the Tree-Scottie Wilson ca 1960

One of my more popular posts, and a piece that I have a special fondness for is Art Brut, which highlighted the work of visionary/outsider artists without formal training, many of whom were institutionalised for mental illness. This was followed shortly after by tangentially related posts on The Postman Cheval’s Ideal Palace and the Acid Cats of Louis Wain, again pieces I am quite tender about,  if only because I got to indulge my penchant for purple prose (anyone for a spot of hallucinated decorative splendour?), while showcasing truly exceptional art and architecture.

So after a delayed interval, (a butterfly for a mind), here are more artists driven by an urgent inner necessity to create intensely luminous works of art.

Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern

Born in East Prussia (now Russia) Friedrich Schroder was sent to a juvenile delinquent facility at the age of 14 and was committed to an asylum at 17. During the 1920’s he founded a cult, though any money raised went to feeding the destitute ruined by the hyper-inflation of the time. In 1930 he was institutionalised again for debt and working as a conman, posing as Dr Eliot Gnass von Sonnenstern (Sun Star). It was during this period that he met an artist who encouraged him to draw. During WWII he spent further time in prison and labour camps. Friedrich’s allegorical drawings and paintings ladened with erotic symbolism was lauded by the artist and critic Jean Dubuffet, the man responsible for coining the phrase Art Brut.

Schonwarsia Mondmarchen-Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern 1954
Schonwarsia Mondmarchen-Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern-1954
The-Demoness-of-Urgency-Friedrich Schroder-Sonnenstern-1958
The-Demoness-of-Urgency-Friedrich Schroder-Sonnenstern 1958
The Moon-Moralistic Veneration of the Artist's Bones - Friedrich Schröder- Sonnenstern
The Moon-Moralistic Veneration of the Artist’s Bones – Friedrich Schröder- Sonnenstern

Consuelo González Amezcua

Born in Mexico, Consuelo (Chelo) Amezcua moved to Del Rio, Texas at the age of five where she was remain for the rest of her life, working at the local department store selling candy. She won a scholarship to study art in Mexico City but her father died, leading her to forfeit the scholarship so that she could remain with her family. Known locally as an eccentric, her family paid little interest in her drawings and poetry (which is frequently incorporated in her art), though at the age of 65 she was the subject of her first exhibition. Chelo’s work is characterised by biblical imagery, Mexican folklore and stunning filigree decorative motifs.

McNay Art Institute and Chelo-Consuelo) Gonzalez Amezcuacirca 1967
McNay Art Institute and Chelo-Consuelo Gonzalez Amezcua circa 1967
The_Prophecy-Consuelo González Amezcua 1966
The_Prophecy-Consuelo González Amezcua 1966
Consuelo (Chelo) Gonzalez Amezcua
Consuelo (Chelo) Gonzalez Amezcua

Joseph E.Yoakum

Jospeh E.Yoakum was born in Missouri of African-American, Cherokee and French descent. He joined the circus at nine and worked for Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show which toured Europe between 1903 to 1906. He served in France during WWI. After the war he travelled throughout North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, working on railroads and as a seaman. Joseph settled in the Southside of Chicago in the late 1920’s, working at various occupations including carpenter, janitor and mechanic. At the age of 72 he was inspired by a dream to start making art, calling it ‘spiritual unfoldment’. During the last decade of his life he produced thousands of anthropomorphic landscapes inspired by his extensive travels.

Near Naples. Italy-Joseph E. Yoakum
Near Naples. Italy-Joseph E. Yoakum
Near Damascus Syria-Joseph E. Yoakum
Near Damascus, Syria-Joseph E. Yoakum
Near Trieste-Joseph E. Yoakum
Near Trieste-Joseph E. Yoakum

Scottie Wilson

Born of Jewish descent, Louis Freeman grew up in the tenements of Glasgow, Scotland,  dropping out of school at the age of eight to help provide income for the struggling family. He later enlisted in the army, changing his name to Scottie Wilson. After serving in WWI he moved to Toronto, Canada, where he owned a second-hand store. At the age of 44 he was listening to Mendelssohn when, all of a sudden, he dipped a pen into the inkwell and started drawing. Pablo Picasso and Andre Breton were early collectors of his intricate and decorative drawings of birds, fish and fauna.

House of Peace-Scottie Wilson
House of Peace-Scottie Wilson
Scottie Wilson
Scottie Wilson
Scottie Wilson
Scottie Wilson