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Howard Finster (American, 1916–2001)
LOT ID: 73924
Wipe Rag Art, 1989

Mixed Media, Ink and Pen on canvas with thumb-tacks on a wooden cabinet panel
20.5 х 15 in. (52.07 x 38.1 cm.)
Signed, dated, and annotated in black marker, recto and verso
Lot description
Image: 15.5 x 10 inches
Panel: 20.5 x 15 inches

Howard Finster incorporates simple ink drawings with text in this vibrant work on canvas, ‘Wipe Rag Art’. Here, Finster merges the faces of animals, humans, and hybrid characters, seamlessly blending positive and negative space to create a crowded landscape that radiates the spirit and energy of the smiling faces. Interspersed with personal and written sentiments, such as “I LOVE GOD” and “PUT YOUR TRUST IN GOD”, Finster’s figures impersonate a congregation, uniting in the spirit of God and in support of Finster’s preaching.

Framed by Finster, the image is annotated on the wood frame, which reads, “HOWARD FINSTER’S. WIPE RAG ART. THIS RAG LIE ACROSS MY LAP WIPING PAINT BRUSHES. MICING COLORS EVERY FEW SECONDS. LINED OFF COLORS LEAVES EMAGES AS YOU SEE. 11.000.199 WORKS. JULY 28 – 1989 – 10:2:PM: SALES OF THESE RAGS. SUPPORT PARODISE GARDEN. A CITY BLOCK SCULPTURE. INVENTIONS OF MAN KIND. MESSAGES FRUIT TREES & VINES”

As a Baptist minister, Howard Finster (1916-2001) found inspiration from God to spread the gospel through art. Over his career, Finster produced more than 46,000 works of art that range in subject, from pop culture icons to religious imagery, but prominently feature references and written verses from the Bible. In the early 1980s, Finster earned international renown for his collaborations with the popular rock bands R.E.M. and Talking Heads who featured his work on their album covers. Since his first solo show in 1979 at Phyllis Kind Gallery, Chicago, IL, Finster has been featured in exhibitions throughout the world, including a solo show in 1982 at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY. His work continues to be widely exhibited and was recently the subject of solo shows at Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH (2012); Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, Ireland (2012); Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, Jacksonville, FL (2011); Krannert Art Museum, Champaign, IL (2010); Muscarelle Museum of Art, Williamsburg, VA (2007); and Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA (2006).

Selected Public Collections:

Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Chicago, IL
Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, MS
The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH

Wipe Rag Art by Howard Finster
  • Wipe Rag Art by Howard Finster
  • Wipe Rag Art by Howard Finster
  • Wipe Rag Art by Howard Finster
  • Wipe Rag Art by Howard Finster
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