Colorful Apocalypse Analysis

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Colorful Apocalypse
The Colorful Apocalypse: Journeys in Outsider Art. By Greg Bottoms. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. Pp. xvi + 184. Reviewed by Tommy Folan.

Birds of a Feather, A Room of his Own, and Tortured Saviours

Outsider artist 's eccentricity, eclecticism, and the seeming originality of their work excites critics, art historians, and collectors because they exist and create work outside of the traditional art historical narrative. But, since Morgenthaler, Prinzhorn, and Dubuffet first brought attention to the works of outsider artists, there has been a tendency to strip the art from the artist. The works are viewed primarily as found art objects – and often they actually are discovered – much as a viewer would approach …show more content…

Beginning with the announcement of Howard Finster 's death, the most likable of the three artists, Bottoms embellishes his own literary self by relating personal stories of drinking cheap booze behind dumpsters, listening to REM, skating in small town Virginia, and other typical teenage angst to which nearly everyone can relate. He further polishes his credentials for writing a book about outsider artists by telling us he is a professor of creative writing, a Southerner, and author who gained acclaim by writing about his Schizophrenic brother who had attempted patricide, conversed with God, and admitted to a rape he had nothing to do with and, importantly, who had begged to attend his father 's funeral a year after having tried to kill him. Through Bottoms nameless brother, the complexity of mental illness becomes a reality from the start of the journey. Bottoms skillfully erodes the barrier between us and the other by bringing to life the love he has for his brother and the love his brother had for their family. We are left grappling with the conundrum of a world view where it makes sense for a person to be able to attempt to kill people he …show more content…

Each of the artists Bottoms explores represent different types of outsider artists. Finster is a mythologized, historic character, a jovial fool, a backwoods jester, Thompson is a self-trained artist rejected by family and society, an odious little cripple, while Kox, a modern day St. Jerome hiding in his cave, is a trained and skilled artist who has found a community where he can co-exist. All three experienced trauma and visions. All three have been discovered raising questions of authenticity. All three 's art is outside of any art history narrative. Their ideas are not a reaction to any discourse or dialectic with art culture, but rather a raw and natural response to what is perceived as falsehoods and untruths in the world. For all three artists, we are the dupes succumbing to and being controlled by society 's false rules

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