MR. OTIS by Stewart H. Holbrook
Kirkus Star


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Mr. Otis (Stewart Holbrook) is represented in this zany, provocative and always charming collection of oil paintings by some twenty-eight works. Each painting is accompanied by a text which proposes to make clear the lofty purpose of the canvas, and Mr. Otis is a painter of many purposes. Social criticism, artistic criticism, philosophy, cosmogony, history,- into every nook and cranny of American thought goes Mr. Otis, the celebrated if impoverished scion of Portland, Oregon, with his pale blues and lavenders. The images he conjures up of social injustice, contemporary malaise, philosophical disorder, become deftly transfused with the gay lights of the child's nursery, a result of the remarkably sanguine quality of Mr. Otis' paintings. In his introduction, Stewart Holbrook, author of many serious works on Americans and Americana, stresses the fact that Mr. Otis' works are not precisely for sale, though they may be obtained through the tried and true method of bartering: a method which such celebrated experts as Mr. Bernard De Voto have eagerly employed. The captions as well as the paintings themselves, maintain a delicate balance between absurdity and convention, for despite the obvious parodies of both the text and the canvases, Stewart Holbrook has caught the tones, the cliches, and the entire vocabulary of self-impressed criticism and it is through his meticulous echoings that the true humor of this collection is achieved.

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 1958
Publisher: Macmillan