The rise of interest in Outsider art over the past decade is now largely a fait accompli, in part due to Maresca and Ricco, the authors of American Primitive and American Self-Taught. They are now proud to present American Vernacular, a follow-up survey of under-recognized vernacular objects. This elegant, beautifully designed book reinforces the seriousness and value of the vernacular tradition. It features 450 color illustrations of angels, birdbaths, carousel swans, phrenology heads and gospel organs that together constitute the true handmade visual inheritance of American history. Addressed largely to the educated art viewer, the book makes a good argument for expanding the bounds of “serious” art to include the unique weather vanes, sculptural carvings and American decoys that it documents.
In the end, American Vernacular tells us something we might have guessed- namely, that artists have been drawing from these unrecognized traditions for many years. With magazines and museums now devoted to Outsider art, and traces of Outsider greats such as Henry Darger and Thornton Dial showing up in the work of young artists, future generations will no doubt need to look for other artistic genres to plumb. In the meantime, this gorgeous volume will prove popular to artists, collectors and art appreciators alike.