What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present

What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present

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  • by Dan Nadel
  • published in 2014
  • hardcover

What Nerve! exposes a hidden history of postwar American figurative painting, sculpture and popular imagery largely overlooked and undervalued relative to the canon of modernist abstract and conceptual art. 

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.

Made up of six School of the Art Institute of Chicago graduates in the mid 60’s, The Hairy Who developed a vibrant and vulgar approach to art making.  They included artist like Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Suellen Rocca, & Karl Wirsum

“They each radically manipulated source material collected from everyday life—including advertisements, comics, posters, and sales catalogs—with technical virtuosity. Their sense of humor embraced idiosyncrasy and spontaneity with wordplay, puns, and inside jokes that often belied the transgressiveness of their subject matter. Ambiguous, provocative, but also strategic, their work transmitted progressive ideas that challenged prevailing notions of gender and sexuality, social mores and standards of beauty, and nostalgia and obsolescence.”

  • The Art Institute of Chicago
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