RISD (The Rhode Island School of Art and Design) is hosting an art show—now open and running until January 9, 2015—“What Nerve!” and it spotlights alternative artists, several of them with one foot in cartooning:
What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present proposes an alternate history of figurative painting, sculpture, and vernacular image-making from 1960 to the present that has been largely overlooked and undervalued. At the heart of What Nerve! are four mini-exhibitions based on crucial shows, spaces, and groups in Chicago (the Hairy Who), San Francisco (Funk), Ann Arbor (Destroy All Monsters), and Providence (Forcefield)—places outside the artistic focal point of New York. These moments are linked together by six influential or intersecting artists: H. C. Westermann, Jack Kirby, William Copley, Christina Ramberg, Gary Panter, and Elizabeth Murray.
All of these artists ran against the modernist grain and its emphasis on theory. Rather than distancing their art through irony or institutional critique, the artists in What Nerve! seized imagery and ideas from vernacular sources as diverse as comics and pottery, pulling and reshaping material from their environments to tackle a variety of subjects with equal doses of satire and sincerity. What Nerve! looks at their distinctive idioms, shown in works that are often earnest, sometimes narrative, frequently transgressive, and always individualistic.
The show is curated by Dan Nadel, who has been spending his time profitably since PictureBox folded.
Nadel has also put together the catalog for the show, What Nerve! , which spotlights all of the above with essays by Nicole Rudick, Roger Brown and more. I WANT THIS BOOK.
The RISD exhibit will have some events as well:
Design the Night opening celebration Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 5-9 pm | free Critical Encounters with Body, Place, and Time Friday, September 19, 2014 | 1-4 pm | free Gallery conversations with artists, curators, and art historians explore key issues emerging from What Nerve! Screenings: Hairy Who & The Chicago Imagists Sundays, September 21 and October 12, 2014 | 2-4 pm | free
Art top: Karl Wirsum’s “Show Girl I” (1969)
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.