show

John Foster

Strange Ink


As far back as the 4th century B.C., inks were made by grinding together burnt bones, tar, pitch, and other substances. They finally made more fluid the task of mark-making, and with brushes and pens, have contributed to the production of some of the finest documents and paintings in human history.

The ink pieces we see today were all produced by late 19th century and 20th century artists who share in common a unique and singular vision: these people were not trained as artists, but found inspiration nonetheless to produce unique works of art despite a host of impediments. From homelessness, mental illness and insanity, strange obsessions, incarceration, to physical ailments — all of those whose work you see featured here were produced by people who managed to make work in spite of it all. (The next time you hit a creative impasse, you might try thinking about some of them.)

Dwight Macintosh (1906 - 1999) spent 56 years in mental institutions. With very little ability to speak or communicate at all, he finally began to draw, in the late 1970s, after being admitted to the Creative Growth Art Center in Oakland, California. His graphic and free-flowing line quality featured, in particular, an obsession with creating giant penises on a kind of “x-ray” human figure, with a continuous script of mostly nonsensical writing. He had a visual language all his own, which may explain why his work now resides in some of the most prestigious collections in the world.

On the other hand, George Widener (b. 1962), who has been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, is a highly functioning “calendar” savant based on calculations he performs in his head. Give him any town or city in the United States and he will reply with its zip code. Within his world, numbers and calculations are instantaneous. And they are always correct.

Below, some examples of their work, as well as other similarly gifted, though perhaps lesser known, visual artists.


strange Ink
Marcos Bontempo: (b. 1969)
China ink with iron/salt on paper
Image courtesy of Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago


strange Ink
Janko Domsic (1915 - 1983)
Ball point ink on paper
Image courtesy of © ABCD Collection, Montreuil, France


strange Ink
Charles Dellschau (1830 to 1923)
Flying Machine concept
Ink and watercolor on paper
Image courtesy of Stephan Romano Gallery, New York, NY


strange Ink
Dan Miller (b. 1961)
Ink on paper
Image courtesy of © ABCD Collection, Montreuil, France


strange Ink
George Widener (b. 1962)
20x: 16 x 30-1/2 inches
Pen and ink with wash on paper
Image courtesy of Carl Hammer Gallery, Chicago


strange Ink
José Rivera (b. 1955)
Las Flores, 2004
11 x 14 inches, black ink on pieced, ruled paper
Image courtesy of Luise Ross Gallery, New York, NY


strange Ink
Eugene Andelosek (1921 - 2008)
Untitled (300c)
17 x 12 inches, ink on graph paper
Image courtesy of American Primitive Gallery, New York


strange Ink
Syunji Yamagiwa (b. 1938)
Syunji Yamagiwa (My Name), 2003
Ink on paper
21.5 x 15 inches
Image courtesy of Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York, NY


strange Ink
J.B.Murray (1908 - 1988)
c. 1978-1988
Ink on paper, 5.625 x 4 inches each
Image courtesy of Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York, NY


strange Ink
Darcilio Lima (1944-1991, Brazil)
ink on paper (print)
Image courtesy of Stephan Romano Gallery, New York, NY




strange Ink

Yuichi Saito
TV Champion, 2004-2005
Ink on paper
15 x 21.5 inches
Image courtesy of Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York, NY


strange Ink
Rudolf Horacek (1915 - 1985)
Ink on paper, 1983
© Art Brut KG
Image courtesy of Gugging Institute, Germany



strange Ink
Henry Ray Clark (1936 - 2006)
I Am the Day Star
approx. 13" x 20"
Ball point ink on manilla envelope
Image courtesy of The Intuitive Eye



strange Ink
Charles Benefiel (b. 1967)
Random Numeric Repeater 14 (detail)
Orange ink on paper
57 x 36 inches
Image courtesy of American Primitive Gallery, New York, NY


strange Ink
Consuelo Amezcua (b. 1903 - 1985)
Mano y Cerebro, 1968
Ink on matboard
28 x 22 inches
Image courtesy of Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York, NY


strange Ink
Emmanuel Deriennic (b. 1908 - 1965)
Untitled
Ink on paper
Image courtesy of © ABCD Collection, Montreuil, France


strange Ink

Emile Josome Hodinos (b. 1853 - 1905)
Ink on paper
Image courtesy of © ABCD Collection, Montreuil, France


strange Ink
Melvin Way (b. 1954)
Ball point ink on paper, covered in clear tape.
Private collection


strange Ink
Dwight Mackintosh (1906 - 1999)
Ink on paper
Image courtesy of © ABCD Collection, Montreuil, France


strange Ink
A.G. Rizzoli (1906 - 1999)
Fantasy architectural drawing, inks and color pencil on paper
Rizzoli is represented by The Ames Gallery, Berkeley, CA


Posted in: Accidental Mysteries, Illustration

Comment 6  |     |     |   Like 0  |   Tweet 49
Comments [6]
It is weird that you do not mention the term "art brut" at all in this article, because it would be helpful for those interested to see more: Art Brut is the "term" for all art created only out of oneself, meaning the way how children, "mentally handicapped" or society outsiders only create out of themselves without any knowledge of "the art world", drawing schools/movements and techniques, genuinely so to speak. (Please excuse my bad english!) if you google "Gugging" (its an austrian mental institution like the Creative Growth Art Center) or "japanese art brut" (because they made a huge and very cool exhibition about that which is touring the world), you can find many more interesting artists. My favorite is shuji takashi who draws by filling the entire paper with graphite/coal and the erasing what is not needed.
Mademoiselle M.
07.19.14
07:25

John, thanks for this well done piece and highlighting the artists and their extraordinary work. I appreciate your inclusion of Henry Ray Clark and credit of Intuitive Eye. Jay Wehnert
Jay Wehnert
07.20.14
04:33

Most of the work above is indeed "art brut", Mademoiselle M. No question. In this instance, however, I chose to leave out the term and let the art stand on it’s own, without using any terminology. I did feel obliged to mention that the work was created by people who, within their private worlds, made art despite setbacks such as homelessness, incarceration, mental illness, etc. Your comment is well taken.
John Foster
07.21.14
11:01

I love that Rudolf Horacek artwork so much! I don't know what it is about it but it just delights me! I find a lot of outsider art fascinating. For those looking for more, I recommend you seek out Raw Vision magazine.
Emme Stone
07.21.14
04:55

Jank Domsic's work brings back memories of the fabulous spirograph.
Jonathan
07.23.14
05:11

This kind of work really is inspiring on many levels. Two relatively recent books dedicated to this sort of art are Drawing Autism (reprinted by Akashic, 2014) and Vehicles (5 Continents Editions, 2013), the first in a theme-based series of work from the Art Brut collection. http://www.akashicbooks.com/catalog/drawing-autism/ http://www.fivecontinentseditions.com/catalogo.php?cat=1258&prod=2273
Buzz Poole
07.24.14
01:24



Creative Opportunities
  • Twitter Facebook Google+
    Tumblr Pinterest RSS

    Design Observer
    social media à la carte
  • Newsletter signup