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Outsider Art: The Man

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     An intriguing work in wood, primitive in both design and technique. A man standing was carved from a light wood. Made during America's Depression Era. The man's face is stoic. Carved holes for eyes and mouth and a protuberance left in the wood for the nose, reminding me of Tramp Art's chip carving. The man stands with quiet dignity; the artist has carved suggestions of physical strength and strength of character, during a time when we needed reminders of our capability to maintain both. An incised horizontal line crosses his hips where the hem of a jacket or tunic would be. It runs around the figure. Two other lines suggest the center opening of his clothing. His base is original. A hand-carved wooden dowel holds the figure to his base.

    The bottoms of the legs are very worn, with no feet. Arms are missing, leaving two small holes with the slightest wear framing each, indicating that pegs once held arms to the body. Minimal traces of black paint remain, long worn down. Figure: about 6 ¾” tall; base: a bit over 4 ½” tall. This piece hasn't been cleaned throughout its life or given wood moisturizer. It has its battle scars,mild though they may be. In fact, they are mild enough to miss. This work is unsigned.

    Note of Interest: From the start, this figure has reminded me of Outsider Art and the much-needed movement in that field, called Nameless Art & Design. The following is from the mission statement of this group of artists and art appreciators: "Nameless challenges an arts establishment that devalues extraordinary art for lack of a signature. ... Driven by homegrown creativity and liberated from the constraints of conventional design, “nameless” self-taught artists of decades and centuries past often worked in obscurity, with many lacking access to formal training and recognition due to their race, gender, disability, or class. Today, their legacies more often than not take the form of singular, unsigned works of art, the best of which thwart categorization and disrupt mainstream narratives." (from the website of Nameless Art & Design Show 2024)

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