Old, Weird America – Folk Themes in Contemporary Art
Subject/Topic: Borrowing its title from Greil Marcus’ 1997 book The Old, Weird America: The World of Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes, this publication is produced in conjunction with an exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, which considers the work of 16 artists who explore American folk imagery and history from the time of European settlement to the 1960s.
Dylan, Marcus argues, was influential because he explored an older, half-forgotten world of American legend that seemed at once stranger and more telling than anything found in the mainstream.
The artists featured in this volume, all of whom came to prominence in the last decade, include Jeremy Blake, Sam Durant, Barnaby Furnas, Brad Kahlhamer, Margaret Kilgallen, Dario Robleto, Allison Smith and Kara Walker, among others. As a group, they draw on folklore for its ability to illuminate American cultural life in its strange mixture of civilization and barbarism, enlightenment and madness.
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