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 Joe Coleman  (1955 - )

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Lived/Active: New York/Connecticut      Known for: performance art

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Joe Coleman
An example of work by Joe Coleman
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Coleman's artistic accomplishments include the broad spectrum of the media of his time: from punk rock recordings and underground comics to independent film acting and performance art. The New York-based artist Joe Coleman has achieved mainstream acclaim in the past decade. His very recognizable art work has adorned book covers and periodicals, comics, records, videos, Hollywood movie posters and CDs.

Joe Coleman Jr. was born in 1955 in Norwalk, Connecticut. Growing up Coleman was placed into a special 1st Grade class for emotionally disturbed, disabled and retarded children. His drawings at this age include bleeding saints, death by fire and stabbing. From a young age he did artwork that was noticed and at the age of 10, he won an art award from Lady Bird Johnson for a drawing of garbage. He began performance art with "party explosions" at the age of 17.

He began his art education by briefly attending the School of Visual Arts, New York and was later kicked out. It is noted that one of the first well-known collectors who purchased his work was David Owsley, the Victoria and Albert Museum curator, who hung the Coleman next to a Breughel in his collection. For a period of time, Coleman was addicted to heroin and methadone, from which he has been clean since 1989.

It has been said of Joe Coleman that he, "is the quintessential Outsider Artist for the end of this century. His paintings are grotesquely detailed scenes rendered in vivid acrylics, often leaving a disturbing impression. His work is filled with unfolding apocalypses, freak show attractions, and portraits of tragic personalities ranging from Jane Mansfield to Charles Manson."


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