Inside NYC's Outsider Art Fair

  • January 19, 2017 17:05

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Prophet Royal Robertson at SHRINE, booth 58.
Jordan MacLachlan at Marion Harris

In New York this weekend, the 2017 Outsider Art Fair, held at the Metropolitan Pavilion from January 19-22, marks the fair's 25th anniversary.

The show's focus still remains self-taught, visionary and naive artists; folk artists working outside the realm of formal instruction; and those generally operating free of art world trends. There are spectacular Gee's Bend quilts and the increasingly-popular figural works of Bill Traylor.

Two exhibitor highlights include:

Marion Harris will show Canadian outsider artist Jordan Maclachlan’s work which gives visual relevance to her emotional relationship with animals. The remarkable and sometimes fantastical creatures remind us that we use them for food, sport, work, entertainment and experimentation as well as companionship.

MacLachlan’s work reflects her ongoing keen interest in animal husbandry and zoo-keeping techniques. The often hyper-realistic realistic portrayals of animals and people can be insightful to the point of voyeurism. At once enlightening and disturbing, her exceptional ceramic sculptures capture the visceral essence of both species.

SHRINE (BOOTH 58) has a solo presentation of old and rare works by Prophet Royal Robertson (1936-1997).

Royal Robertson obsessively covered almost every inch of his Baldwin, Louisiana home and yard with apocalyptic hand-made signs and visionary double-sided drawings and paintings. Visitors of this self-proclaimed prophet were greeted with large, weatherbeaten signs warning "NO DIVORCE WHORE'S ALLOWED (sic)", "NO PROUD BASTARDS" and "ALL CRAZY PERSONS KEEP OFF LOT" before entering into his home. Once inside, shrines to his both beloved and despised ex-wife, Adell, came into focus amid poster board renderings of futuristic cities and autos, UFOs, couples engaged in sex, angels and space Gods, and detailed calendars chronicling his daily woes. Referencing sources as disparate as the Bible, science fiction magazines, pornography and cheap tabloid newspapers, his work graphically illustrates the daily concerns that occupied his mind, both real and imagined.

Jordan MacLachlan at Marion Harris

For this exhibition, the original drawing used by Sufjan Stevens for his album, The Age of Adz, will be available for the first time. Stevens not only incorporated imagery by Robertson for his cover and insert artwork, he also used Royal Robertson's life story as the conceptual springboard for the album's narraitive. Unlike most art fair sales, this drawing will be avaialble as an online auction starting the opening night of the fair and closing a week later.

In addition to the Age of Adz drawing, a selection of very early, hand-painted signs from Royal Robertson's first yard environment will be shown at the Outsider Art Fair. 

To preview more, see the New York Times' list of top ten artists at the show. See also Hyperallergic's highlights.

Tags: folk art

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