"Great and Mighty Things" Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection Ann Percy, Cara Zimmerman, Francesco Clemente, Lynne Cooke, Joanne Cubbs, Bernard L. Herman, Colin Rhodes

Publication date:
18 Mar 2013
Yale University Press
288 pages: 305 x 248mm
245 color + 1 b-w illus.


The contemporary art world has been challenged and invigorated by outsider art—works by self-taught practitioners who, by definition, have little to do with mainstream art production, but are nonetheless actively engaged with the visual culture of their time and place.

This is the first book to explore the collection of Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz, one of the finest private collections of American outsider art. Twenty-seven artists are included in the selection published here, among them Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, William Edmondson, Howard Finster, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Martín Ramírez, and Bill Traylor. The book presents short biographies of the artists and essays by major scholars that examine the work from both theoretical and historical perspectives, with a particular focus on the relationship of contemporary art to outsider art and how the latter has been critically appropriated into postmodern discourse. Renowned artist Francesco Clemente’s fascinating essay places these so-called outsiders in the mystical tradition of Jacob Boehme, Emanuel Swedenborg, and William Blake.

Ann Percy is curator of drawings at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Cara Zimmerman is executive director of the Foundation for Self-Taught Artists in Philadelphia.

“invaluable, refreshing, and thrilling.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“an exceptional catalog.” —Roberta Smith, New York Times

“This well thought out and skillfully executed book introduces one of the country’s finest collections of outsider. . .art”—Choice