"Great and Mighty Things:" Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection

Edited by Ann Percy with Cara Zimmerman. Yale Univ., $60 (288p) ISBN 978-0-300-19175-2
Accompanying an exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, this volume celebrates the artistically diverse "outsider" artists that comprise the Bonovitz Collection, one of the most extensive of its kind. The included artists worked outside of the conventional art establishment—making street corners into galleries or discarded roofing into canvases, for instance—before being brought into the art market by collectors and curators, often posthumously. The catalogue itself is the book's heart, offering lavish reproductions alongside brief notes on the artists' biographies and methods. The works are smartly presented with little context outside of the biographical, encouraging the art to be considered for its visual qualities. A series of essays expands upon the questions raised by categorizing the work, both to the art itself and to the institutionalized art world; particularly useful are Francesco Clemente's lyric take on the visionary yet human impulse of the outsider artist, and Joanne Cubbs's articulation of the Black South's crucial importance to outsider art. The collection amassed by Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz offers only a glimpse at the thriving worlds of outsider art, but it's a glimpse that is invaluable, refreshing, and thrilling. Color illustrations. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/25/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
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