John Tursi: New Works: Gallery Two

3 March - 15 April 2023
Press release

"Michelangelo is back!" John Tursi regularly reminds us when he comes to work at the Living Museum, Creedmoor Psychiatric Center. After hearing it for the last thirty years, it is time to accept his reality. Not unlike the Renaissance master, he has devoted his entire life to creating one piece of art after the other. Daily, precise, obsessive, colorful, at times humorous, at times tragic, always enchanting, always compelling, and full of surprises. Ricco Maresca exhibited his "Treebone" wire sculptures in 1997. He has since been featured in several documentaries, including Jessica Yu's influential HBO documentary "The Living Museum" (1998). A series of shows in museums and galleries all over the world have followed. Yet, Tursi remains nonplussed by fame and accolades, remaining the straightforward son of very supportive Italian American parents, rooted in the working-class culture of Whitestone Queens, where he was born in 1961. Growing up was not easy for a child with a learning disability, with the interference of symptoms from various psychiatric afflictions, bullying by peers, and just the life of someone who is different. The many hospitalizations didn't help much, until he arrived at Creedmoor and found refuge in the Living Museum. Here he blossomed. Here he found an environment, where his
"delusion" of a "Book of Dreams" encountered curiosity, rather than judgment of a symptom to be rid of by medical means. From the "Book of Dreams" he brings his images into the world, creating a unique oeuvre. The art is deeply personal; raw, unfiltered, visionary, just as he finds it in the pages that flow from the neuro-entanglements of his mind. After 30 years of observing him, working in his studio, I must agree with him: Michelangelo is back!


— Dr. Janos Marton - Director of the Living Museum



Roberta Smith of the New York Times wrote in 2002:

"The artist who comes closest to genius status here is John Tursi, whose scroll-like drawings cover the walls of a large double-height gallery. They dazzle. Using mostly the shapes of triangles, French curves and other drafting tools, Mr. Tursi has devised a vocabulary at once organic and geometric that sustains endless variations. With it, he has created a universe of acrobats engaged in all kinds of intimate acts that remain more engaging for their decorative power than their naughtiness. These figures evoke the coiled energy and perfection of Indian art--specifically the erotic intertwinings of temple sculpture and the saturated palette of Indian miniature painting."



Roberta Smith. Who Is to Say Where Inside Meets Outside? New York Times, 2022:

Jessica Yu. The Living Museum (1997) trailer on Vimeo:

The Living Museum - Publications:

Installation Views