New York

John Altoon

Tibor De Nagy Gallery

Pen, ink and airbrush drawings from the “Cowboys and Indians” series by the late John Altoon, an artist with a considerable underground reputation as a draftsman among artists on the West Coast, are epic, erotic fantasies about Indians, cowboys and colonial ladies whose wit and beautiful calligraphy make them exceptionally entertaining. The imagery swings from inventive whimsy to violence—all paradoxically dried out by his fast-moving pen. There’s no violence in the sex, only in the surrounding events. Gentle, bizarre pleasures take place amidst murder and destruction. In a few drawings, the detached sexual amusement tips over into sadism, like the one in which a woman pulls an agonized figure, his face obliterated in a welter of painful lines, around by his penis.

Altoon’s drawings are spontaneously improvisational. They feel like automatic writing, with the pen never seeming to leave the

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