New York

Martin Ramirez

Phyllis Kind Gallery

Art pulled from the minds of the seriously disturbed, the retarded, the disjointed mute marauders of the unconscious, still has, in some cases, a delicacy and mythology that raises it above and beyond pathology. Van Gogh was an artist first, a madman second. Others are first mad; then, in order to help the doctors, they are given materials (as if they were children) in order to reveal themselves and at the same time to remain calm and tractable. Given this opportunity, the mentally ill person sometimes proves that he or she was an artist all along—but without port-folly-o. Yes, art is a folly and a port, as any fool can plainly see. Yet, in the case of Martin Ramirez, art was as necessary as food or sex, and often contained both. His work was put together with spit and bits of bread that acted as a glue, holding together pieces of paper which he drew on with colored pencils and crayons,

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.