Elmer Anderson Mike Kelley Inappropriate Appropriation, The Thing , Genuine Genius Scott Warmuth and Ghostly Afterimage
There is nothing better than a slow-burning low-art mystery, and Elmer Anderson just continues to prove it. My third post on Elmer in as many years, this one prompted by a remarkable find by the brilliant Scott Warmuth. An actual ad (!) taken out by Elmer's distributor, in of all places Billboard Magazine! Maybe they thought musicians were the perfect consumers for his wacky and incomprehensible drawings. You know...the reefer.
NOW having done three posts on the artist Elmer, I should be recognized as the world's foremost Elmer Anderson scholar, though I know absolutely NOTHING about him. As such, I'll take any opportunity to exhibit Elmer. Or as I pointed out HERE, "Genuine" Elmer. Certainly one of the most infamous, if unknown, artists of Waterloo, Iowa.
I have also since learned noted contemporary artist Mike Kelley used an Elmer Anderson image, "The Thing" shown above, as the source for his painting "Ghostly Afterimage" in 1998. Now that may be appropriation, but it certainly is not appropriate. "The Thing" can stand on it's own, it being a dramatic and profound anti-alcohol piece with a sufferer choking a whiskey snake.
Here is what falutin' art magazine Frieze had to say about Kelley's piece based on "The Thing".
"Ghostly Afterimage, for example, a brutish self portrait in oils by the fictional ‘Elmer’, accompanied by a psycho-babble commentary claiming that ‘Elmer’s shaky paint is typical of those who suffer from the type of violent delirium characterised by the sweats, trembling, anxiety and frightening hallucinations’"
Brutish? FICTIONAL? Humpf. May I suggest another word starting with BR? Brilliant!
Sure enough as seen here, lower right, Kelley's painting is a perfect reversed image of Elmer's brilliant work, but appears to be painted on (the then) trendy plywood backing contemporary artists were using in the late 90s. The IRONY. Well, Elmer didn't work in irony, and I doubt he ever knew his image was shown as "kunst" in Germany. If you dig around enough, you will find the brochure, which is a German art catalog, but you'll have to use Google translate to see if the "critic" liked it!
Jim Linderman is a collector of Elmer Anderson Postcards, and author of THE HORRIBLE HANDMADE POSTCARDS OF ANONYMOUS printed by Blurb. Anonymous would have liked Elmer.
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