|Creator:||Finster, Howard, 1916-|
|Creator:||High Museum of Art.|
|Title:||Howard Finster collection|
|Quantity:||106.0 Linear feet (84 oversized boxes)|
The Reverend Howard Finster emerged from the rural Appalachian culture of northeast Alabama and northwest Georgia to become one of America's most important creative personalities in the last quarter of the twentieth century. He was a visionary artist in various visual media as well as a poet and a musician, and his creative output and cultural influence were enormous. Although he has been called "the Picasso of folk artists," his fusion of tradition and innovation makes the label "folk artist" questionable. He called himself a "stranger from another world" and a "man of visions," and described his brain as being "beyond the light of sun." Finster was not unique as a self-taught environmental and visual artist: many significant individuals in the South and beyond have created distinctive and inspired art works and environments. Yet well before his death he had produced a highly personal body of work, including thousands of paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints; and recorded and written narratives and musical material--original songs and folk-style improvisations on homemade tapes as well as commercial LP and CD issues. He had been included in hundreds of exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale in 1984 and a major exhibit at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta in 1996. He had interacted and collaborated with artists, rock musicians, students, and teachers. His bibliography includes two major monographs, autobiographical books, and recordings, as well as hundreds of articles and entries in exhibition catalogs. Finster's most original and powerful contributions to art were his garden, the sculptural and architectural works within it such as his bicycle frame constructions and the World's Folk Art Church, and the powerful paintings of the 1970s and early 1980s. These latter works, rich in formal and poetic invention, are apocalyptic visions laced with humor and personal/universal imagery. In the last fifteen years of his life Finster continued to be featured in numerous exhibitions, the most important being his retrospective at the High Museum of Art. As his health declined he continued to make art, although the forms and images became more repetitious and less inventive. He and Pauline moved away from the Paradise Garden to a home in Summerville but returned regularly to the gallery/visitors' center that his family maintained, where he greeted visitors with banjo playing and songs and impromptu sermons and monologues. When he died in 2001 the garden was being maintained by his family and supporters, while important three-dimensional works, as well as paintings, had been placed in collections and museums. There is a permanent installation of his work at the High Museum. Howard Finster is now recognized as a major artist, rather than an interesting eccentric belonging to some hard-to-define subcategory of "outsider" or "folk" art. He ultimately forged an important body of work that lives up to the most frequently quoted inscription from his garden: "I took the pieces you threw away and put them together by night and day, washed by rain and dried by sun, a million pieces all in one." New Georgia Encyclopedia - Howard Finster (ca. 1915-2001) http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Article.jsp?id=h-977 (Retrieved October 27, 2009)
The collection consists of the paper records of Howard Finster, including correspondence, postcards, notebooks and various writings. The collection also contains the art related materials the High Museum did not imagine would be used in exhibits of his art. This includes unfinished works as well as such items as: paper on wood in many different shapes; plate with Gerald Ford on it; painted yellow gourd; 1 container of Minwax; an empty Kodak Camera box; various paint containers; brushes, knives and other art related items.
Related collections held by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia.
Howard Finster collection, 1900s.. MS 3356. Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries.