How the Midwest Made Artists Out of Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw
Famous as a collector of American junk, including a trove of thrift store paintings once sought by art collector Charles Saatchi, Jim Shaw draws on his vast stores of pop cultural artifacts in his work. The My Mirage (1986–91) project comprises nearly 170 drawings, silkscreens, photographs, sculptures, films, and paintings based on a Shaw stand-in called Billy, who grows from childhood to psychosis to born-again Christianity. Billy exists amid a 1960s and ’70s visual overload of pulp novels, comic books, records, and psychedelic posters. The artist’s Oism project, initiated in the late 1990s, explores his fictional religion through media including video installations (recalling both Busby Berkeley musicals and 1980s aerobics videos) and found paintings in the “Oist style.” Shaw’s richly layered practice takes liberally from both art history (Art Brut, Vincent van Gogh, Salvador Dalí, Rene Magritte, Max Ernst) and America’s vernacular of coffeemakers and zombie films.
American, b. 1952, Midland, Michigan, based in Los Angeles, California