What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present
Dan Nadel, Dominic Molon, Roger Brown, Robert Cozzolino
Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, & D.A.P., New York, 2015
What Nerve! reveals a hidden history of American figurative painting, sculpture and popular imagery. It documents and/or restages four installations, spaces or happenings, in Chicago, San Francisco, Detroit and Providence, which were crucial to the development of figurative art in the United States. Several of the better-known artists in What Nerve! have been the subject of significant exhibitions or publications, but this is the first major volume to focus on the broader impact of figurative art to connect artists and collectives from different generations and regions of the country. These are: from Chicago, the Hairy Who (James Falconer, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Suellen Rocca, Karl Wirsum); from California, Funk artists (Jeremy Anderson, Robert Arneson, Roy De Forest, Robert Hudson, Ken Price, Peter Saul, Peter Voulkos, William T. Wiley); from Detroit, Destroy All Monsters (Mike Kelley, Cary Loren, Niagara, Jim Shaw); and from Providence, Forcefield (Mat Brinkman, Jim Drain, Leif Goldberg, Ara Peterson). Created in collaboration with artists from these groups, the historical moments at the core of What Nerve! are linked by work from six artists who profoundly influenced or were influenced by the groups: William Copley, Jack Kirby, Elizabeth Murray, Gary Panter, Christina Ramberg and H.C. Westermann. Featuring paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs and videos, as well as ephemera, wallpaper and other materials used in the reconstructed installations, the book and exhibition will broaden public exposure to the scope of this influential history. The exuberance, humor and politics of these artworks remain powerfully resonant. Much of the work in this book, including installation photos, exhibition ephemera and correspondence, is published for the first time. What Nerve! represents the first historical examination of the circumstances, relationships and works of an increasingly important lineage of American artists.