A Doorway to Joe: The Art of Joe Coleman
Fantagraphics Books

A comprehensive monograph of the artist Joe Coleman, the “walking ghost of old America.”

Possessed by the spirits that haunt a nation, Joe Coleman paints minutely-detailed portraits and tableaus that present a unique and intensely-personal vision of the world, both hellish and humanistic, seeking the universal in the visceral.

His canon of subjects, a compendium of the famous and the infamous, the dispossessed, the deviant, the damaged and the damned, includes historical figures, murderers, musicians, heretics, writers, artists, and other unshakeable non-conformists, whom the artist channels through paintings so vivid they seem to bear the spark of life. The meticulously-researched narratives contained in Coleman’s work—which has been shown in museums and galleries worldwide, and exhibited alongside Hieronymous Bosch, Otto Dix, and George Grosz—also serve as an exegesis of the artist’s own psyche and history, confronting trauma and celebrating his circle of intimates and acquaintances.

A Doorway To Joe spans five decades of Coleman’s career as a painter and visual artist. The book includes reproductions of over 150 paintings, alongside the artist’s own commentary and notes on the works, and fully-illustrated themed essays by leading art critics, writers, and artists that illuminate key aspects of his oeuvre. From his earliest work in underground comics, through his time with confrontational ’70s NYC punk band Steel Tips, and explosive performances as his fearsome, carnival geek alter-ego Dr Mombooze-o. As a collector and curator of the Odditorium, Coleman’s own private sideshow museum of artefacts that trace his personal obsessions with true crime, carnival culture, reliquaries and icons. The book also explores the enduring relationship with Coleman’s wife and muse, Whitney Ward.

Featuring an introduction by musician Tom Waits, A Doorway To Joe offers the most complete collection of Coleman’s work to date. A funhouse mirror of the world from this most extraordinary American artist.

Joe Coleman is a world-renowned painter, writer, and performer who has exhibited for five decades in major museums throughout the world including one-man exhibitions at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, the Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin, the Barbican Centre in London, and Tilton Gallery and Dickinson Gallery in New York. His collectors have included Iggy Pop, Jim Jarmusch, Anthony Bourdain, Leonardo DiCaprio, and H.R. Giger. He was the subject of an award-winning feature length documentary, Rest in Pieces: A Portrait of Joe Coleman (1997) and lives with his wife Whitney Ward in Brooklyn and upstate New York. His newest collection, A Doorway to Joe: The Art of Joe Coleman, is out now from Fantagraphics.

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