Past Exhibitions / Angels, Devils and the Electric Slide: Outsider Art from the Permanent Collection

December 10, 2011 - July 8, 2012

The Nasher Museum presented an exhibition of Outsider artists from the Permanent Collection to complement Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art. Outsider art refers to the visionary work of contemporary artists who have never had formal training. The artists, like Calder, share the practice of incorporating found objects and unusual materials in their work. The artists in the exhibition hail from across the Southeastern United States, and their art ranges from painting to ceramics to sculpture in wood or metal. All of their works give voice to an interior world—those personal fantasies, meditations on everyday life and unspoken fears—that most people cannot put into words or images.

Outsider Art demonstrated the innovative strategies and imaginative visual languages that result when Outsider artists follow their irrepressible artistic impulses. It included work by Minnie Black, the Rev. Howard Finster, Jimmy Lee Sudduth, Mose Tolliver and Purvis Young. In every case, the artists used unique materials and creative processes to make their art. Whereas Jimmy Lee Sudduth finger-painted with pigment-tinted mud, Hubert Walters fashioned his Passenger Ship out of discarded furniture pieces and Bondo—an industrial putty that is a staple of auto body shops and carpenter tool sheds.

The exhibition was complemented by a gallery talk by Duke graduate student Katie Jentleson and a free Family Day event.

Outsider Art included gifts and promised gifts from Bruce Lineker, New York, and the Rubell Family Collection, Miami.

TOP: Annie Lucas, Four Beasts at the Throne of Heaven, 1994. Acrylic, thread, glitter on canvas; 25 X 31 inches. Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Promised gift of Bruce Lineker, T’86, L.9.2008.8.