At the New Museum, Jim Shaw Reveals America’s Esoteric Side

THE DAILY PIC: The L.A. painter shares his collection of religious gear.


THE DAILY PIC (#1411): For me, the most compelling objects in the Jim Shaw survey that opened last week at the New Museum, in New York, are not his paintings and drawings. (Although his chameleon-like shifts between styles are clearly impressive.) What really grabbed me was his vast, vast collection of miscellaneous ephemera and … junk … churned out by America’s religious cranks and esoterics. A small sample of his holdings can be glimpsed in today’s Daily Pic, but I’m still not quite sure what to do with them.

My first instinct, as a card-carrying atheist and art-world denizen, is to appreciate them for their camp value and appropriate them as ultra-wacky readymades. But somehow that seems both far too easy and far too condescending. Shaw’s objects represent a deep and powerful – and, for me, frankly terrifying – current in American culture that demands sober reflection. I almost wish Shaw had shown them in a history museum, with as much wall text as the eyes could bear. (Photo by Lucy Hogg)

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