First published: Spring 2002
Mose Tolliver (b.1919)
Inspired to begin painting in the 1960s after a work-related accident left him without the use of his legs, Mose Tolliver has become one of the most popular self-taught painters of our time. Painting in his bedroom with simple brushes and common house paint, he has developed a dynamic visual lexicon, replete with quasi-abstract figures, both familiar and imaginary. With his inventive sense of flattened, decorative form and composition, he has truly reinvented the still life, but he is also a master of whimsical erotica. Today, his atelier includes members of his extended family; his daughter Annie has also received recognition for her paintings, which echo her father’s exquisitely quirky style.
Armand Gaultier (b.1923)
Armand Gaultier did not begin transforming trees into his trademark ‘smiley faces’ until he was fifty years old. The Vermont dairy farmer and handyman known as ‘Frenchie’ (a reference of his French-Canadian descent), claims that the idea to carve giant and often grotesque faces from the trunks of living trees ‘just kind of struck me.’ The expressive power of these works is dramatically amplified when considered in the context of their natural setting, and gives a face to the palpable, yet otherwise abstract animism that pervades the woods near his home. This self-taught artist proves that aesthetically interfacing with the natural world is not the exclusive province of mainstream conceptualists.