This week I'll be focusing on many of the artists attached to the Chicago based "Hairy Who" art group.
The Hairy Who were a collection of six artists who attended the Chicago Institute of Art. They had 5 exhibitions and published four "comic book" catalogues during the 60's.
This quote taken from here summarizes what the Hairy Who artists were all about.
"...funky and irreverent subject matter (often with sexual and/or violent overtones, with imaginative fantasies dealing with the figure under extreme physical or psychological stress), a predilection for narrative themes drawn from vernacular sources, a decided openness to influences from self-taught artists and from sources outside the mainstream of Western art history, a taste for garish and obsessively busy small-scale compositions driven by a concern for symmetry and a linear approach to the figure, surrealistic whimsy and ironic and caustic humor undercutting the 'serious' status of the art object, high-keyed color, scrupulous and fastidious craftspersonship tending toward the suppression of evidence of the experiential residue of the artist's hand, and iconic independence and idiosyncratic mannerism of the most manic sort."
Karl Wirsum's artwork contains a variety of characters resembling cartoon/ comic book characters abstracted into a strange mess of shapes and patterns. "Wirsum's imaginary creatures and super hero characters enact bizarre scenes. Figures from outer space perform domestic tasks such as mowing the lawn; space men happily orbit starry objects. His work exists in the buffer zone between real and imaginary, mundane domesticity and super hero powers, day-to-day existence and daydreams. " His influence is evident in much of the 80's comic art associated with RAW magazine.
There's an interesting article by Dan Nadel at www.comicsreporter.com that details who Karl Wirsum and The Hairy Who are.
This collection of photos taken from Wirsum's home displays much of his strange collections alongside his own artworks.
Giant Wirsum painting on a building
Photo of a paper sculpture