AN AMERICAN CELEBRATION: The Art of Charles Wysocki by Charles Wysocki

AN AMERICAN CELEBRATION: The Art of Charles Wysocki

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Those with an insatiable craving for nostalgia and a high tolerance for whimsy apparently can't get enough of Wysocki's slickly naive paintings--200,000 copies of his American Calendar are sold every year. Now, in his first book, the California-based artist again combines Grant Wood-stylization with Grandma Moses-primitivism to produce 150 works that depict, in his words, a ""pristine version of yesterday's scenes and values."" They ""celebrate"" an America that never existed, except perhaps in the speeches of Fourth of July orators and high-school commencement speakers. Wysocki's scenes are a sanitized and sentimentalized rendering of the American past from the early 1800's to the 1930's. Amish barn raisings and barnstorming California pilots, New England seacoast villages and Western mining towns, Indian encampments and Texas oil strikes are all portrayed with an unremitting cuteness that falsifies and eventually debases the very values he purports to extol. With his vision of a world in which aprons are always spotless, where children always skip, dogs invariably romp and ""Old Glory"" is on permanent display, Wysocki makes Norman Rockwell look like a member of ""The Ashcan School."" The text that accompanies the pictures focuses on clich‚s of the past as well--lovers on porch swings, Hallowe'en pranks, scrimshaw and sleigh rides, whirligigs and whalers. Interspersed are snippets of popular songs, recipes for pumpkin blossom fritters and the like, and heartwarming mottoes painted in a quasi-fraktur style. The quality of the color reproduction is top-notch, as befits a volume obviously designed for Christmas gift-giving. An American Celebration will be popular with those lovers of Americana who ""may not know much about"" either history or art, but who ""know what they like.

Pub Date: Nov. 29th, 1985
Publisher: Workman