Monday, August 24, 2015

audio/visual delight: hang-ups - paintings by jonathan winters

It's been too long since my last (and first) Audio/Visual Delight feature post, and this time the focus again will be on the visual, namely a book released by Random House some time ago, featuring the art of the highly influential Jonathan Winters, who was known mostly for his comedy routines. Now, I'm no expert on Winters, and honestly, he was a little before my time. I actually found this book on sale at an antique store while visiting North Beach, Maryland. The artwork inside grabbed me immediately - strange, unique, and pretty darn amazing. Then I learned it was the artwork of THE Jonathan Winters, whose comedy, and life in general was also quite strange, unique and amazing. 

There is a definite Native American influence to both the visual aspect of his paintings, as well as some of the messages in his work, however, he tends to shrug off some obviously deeper meanings in his pieces, for somewhat light-hearted, almost trite verbal explanations. His art also could easily be lumped into the "visionary" and "outsider" categories, if it were not for the fact that he did attend art school for four years, mostly with a concentration on cartooning. Perhaps his stay at a couple of mental institutions around 1960, something which he refers to in some of his stand-up routines, could qualify his art as the work of an outsider or visionary, however. Whatever the case may be, it is far from fluff, and there is some true, genuine genius at hand throughout the pages of the book. 

The pages are well-sized for viewing and all in vivid, full color, thankfully. It is also, thankfully hard-bound and surprisingly, easily available for a reasonable price on Amazon. Definitely a must for any serious art book collector.