The Incorrect Museum: Nut Art


In the late 1960s, a circle of artistsโ€”including Roy De Forest, Clayton Bailey, David Gilhooly, Peter Saul and Robert Arnesonโ€”adopted the label โ€œNut Art.โ€ Each artist adopted a โ€œnuttyโ€ artistic alter egoโ€”Bailey, for instance, dubbed himself Dr. Gladstone, while De Forest began to identify as Doggie Dinsmour.

Along with writer David Zack, De Forest penned a stirring โ€œNut Art Manifesto,โ€ taking pains to distinguish their work from the โ€œFunk Artโ€ enshrined in Peter Selzโ€™s 1967 exhibition. โ€œThe work of a peculiar and eccentric nut,โ€ the manifesto noted, โ€œcan truly be called โ€˜nut art.โ€™โ€ Nut artists turned inward to illustrate an inner dreamscape: โ€œThe nut artificer travels in a phantasmagoric micro-world, small and extremely compact, as is the light of a dwarf star imploding inward and in passage collapsing paradise and hell to one as it vanishes forever with our joys, sorrows and unrequited love.โ€

Unlike other artists featured in Selzโ€™s โ€œFunkโ€ show, Nut artists produced โ€œphantasmagoric micro-worlds,โ€ surrealist and almost psychedelic in nature, with distinctive characters and visual themes recurring throughout works created in a wide variety of media. De Forest, for example, spent decades illustrating a whimsical universe populated by dogs, horses and rabbits in works ranging from oil paintings, to prints and monumental sculptures. Bailey, similarly, produced an imagined world of monsters and dinosaurs, while Gilhooly depicted a mindscape of campy frogs. These artists created fantastical artistic realms reflecting each particular artistโ€™s inner life. ย 

Roy De Forest, ๐˜Œ๐˜ญ ๐˜๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฃ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ ๐˜Ž๐˜ณ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ, 1989, 85 ร— 106 ร— 16 inches.

"The nut artificer travels in a phantasmagoric micro-world..." โ€”Nut Art Manifesto

artworks in nut art

origins: nut art