Joe Coleman (painter)
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Joseph "Joe" Coleman, Jr. (born November 22, 1955) is an American painter, illustrator and performance artist.
Coleman is best known for intricately detailed portraits of subjects both famous and infamous: artists, outlaws, serial killers, movies stars, friends, and family. He paints with a single-hair brush and uses a jewelers loupe; much of the detail is not visible to the naked eye. The majority of his portraits portray the central subject in the center of the canvas, lozenges containing biographical scenes and details from the subject's life ring the central image. Humorous imagery is often placed beside scenes of tragic family incidents.
His work draws as much from Coleman's beginnings as a comic book artist as from historical precedents. His paintings are most often compared to those of Hieronymus Bosch, and his work has been exhibited alongside canvases by the Dutch master.
In 2006, Coleman had a retrospective at New York's Jack Tilton Gallery entitled "Joe Coleman: 30 Paintings and a Selection from the Odditorium", curated by Steven Holmes. The following year he had one-man shows at two major European museums, in Paris at the Palais de Tokyo, and "Joe Coleman Internal Digging" at Berlin's K-W Institute. In 2008, New York's Dickinson Gallery exhibited Coleman's work together with "Devotio Moderno: Joe Coleman/Northern Primitives" paintings by Hans Memling and other 15th century early Netherlandish painters.
In June 2014, reproductions of Coleman's work were displayed in Portland, Maine. The paintings were displayed in conjunction with the premiere of 'Serial Killers, Country Music and Pickled Punks', a one-hour docudrama staged play. The works in the exhibition were directly referenced within the play, which focused on his output from the 1990s and early 2000s.
Collectors of Coleman's paintings include Iggy Pop, Johnny Depp, Jim Jarmusch, Leonardo DiCaprio, D.B. Doghouse, and H.R. Giger.
- Hasil Adkins
- Gertrude Baniszewski
- P. T. Barnum
- Mary Bell
- Grover Bergdoll
- Boxcar Bertha
- Jack Black
- Larry Desmedt
- Johnny Eck
- Albert Fish
- Ed Gein
- Carlo Gesualdo
- George Grosz
- Harry Houdini
- Kip Kinkel
- Jayne Mansfield
- Paul Massaro (artist/tattooist)
- Paul John Knowles
- Indian Larry
- Charles Manson
- Timothy McVeigh
- David Owsley
- Carl Panzram
- Edgar Allan Poe
- Quantrill's Raiders
- Jonathan Shaw (tattooist)
- Edward Teller
- Hank Williams
Coleman's work has been featured on the covers of many books including:
- Apocalypse Culture
- Apocalypse Culture II
- Muzzlers, Guzzlers, and Good Yeggs
- The Mystery of Wolverine Woo-Bait
- Under the Empire of the Birds
- You Can't Win
His pranks — including appearing to blow himself up and medieval-style geek antics — have been documented in the Pranks! volume of RE/Search, along with the works of some of his contemporaries such as Boyd Rice.
Coleman is an avid enthusiast for weird, dark American culture and a serious collector of sideshow oddities. He's a patron of Johnny Fox's Freakatorium in New York City (where he lives) and was a supporter and good friend of the late rockabilly eccentric Hasil Adkins. He also acted in Black Hearts Bleed Red, a 1992 film adaptation of Flannery O'Connor's short story A Good Man Is Hard To Find, made by New York independent film director Jeri Cain Rossi, and also in Scarlet Diva, Asia Argento's 2003 film debut as director. He recently inducted a lock of hair from Daniel Genis, which was the basis for a Vice profile.
- Cosmic Retribution: The Infernal Art of Joe Coleman by Joe Coleman (Fantagraphics, 1992, paperback, ISBN 0-922915-06-7; Feral House, 1993, hardcover, ISBN 0-922915-13-X).
- The Man of Sorrows by Joe Coleman (Gates of Heck, 1993, hardcover, ISBN 0-9638129-0-4; republished in 1998).
- Original Sin: The Visionary Art of Joe Coleman by Joe Coleman, John Yau, Jim Jarmusch, Harold Schechter, and Katharine Gates (Heck Editions, 1997, paperback, ISBN 0-9638129-6-3).
- R.I.P., Rest in Pieces: A Portrait of Joe Coleman (1997, directed by Robert-Adrian Pejo, starring Joe Coleman and Jim Jarmusch, DVD).
- The Book of Joe by Joe Coleman, Anthony Haden-Guest, Katharine Gates, Asia Argento, Rebecca Lieb, and Jack Sargeant (Last Gasp/La Luz de Jesus Press, 2003, hardcover, ISBN 0-86719-578-9).
- Muzzlers, Guzzlers, and Good Yeggs (Fantagraphics Books, 2005, hardcover, ISBN 1-56097-628-4).
- Coleman's Odditorium by Carlo McCormick, artnet
- The Walking Ghost of Old America by Steve Dollar, Wall Street Journal
- Joe le macabre by Alexis Jakubowicz, Libération
- Schechter, Harold (1997). ""Carny of the Gods", Original Sin: The Visionary Art of Joe Coleman, HECK Editions, 82.
- "Outsider Art Sourcebook", ed. John Maizels, Raw Vision, Watford, 2009, p.60
- Yau, John (1997), "Joe Coleman's Illuminations", Original Sin: The Visionary Art of Joe Coleman, HECK Editions, 13.
- Catalogue information at KW Institute
- Genis, Daniel. "Babies in Jars, Death Masks, and Ponytails: My Induction to the Odditorium". www.Vice.com. Retrieved 14 August 2015.
- Official website
- Coleman Gets a Retrospective at the Tilton Gallery in Manhattan in The New York Times
- AT HOME WITH -- Joe Coleman; Saints and Monsters in The New York Times
- "The Horrible Happy Life of Joe Coleman" in Los Angeles CityBeat, 17 December 2003
- Jeri Cain Rossi's 1992 film "Black Hearts Bleed Red" starring Joe Coleman
- Short piece from showhistory.com on Joe Coleman's role as modern day "Geek"
- Interview with Joe Coleman: A Look Inside an Infernal Machine!!
- Joe Coleman in Bizarre (magazine)
- Joe Coleman by Jack Sargeant in Bizarre (magazine)
- From the Sideshow to the Bigtop: Joe Coleman by Rebecca Lieb in Raw Vision
- Welcome to the dark and happy world of Joe Coleman. Interview by Fascineshion.
- Joe Coleman Auto-Portrait