The Collected Hairy Who Publications 1966-1969
Over the course of five collaborative exhibitions from 1966 to 1969, the six artists who made up the Hairy Who — Jim Falconer, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Suellen Rocca, and Karl Wirsum — represented a break from the then-dominant forms of image-making. Each artist’s approach was unique, but uniting their work was a shared sensibility: a hallucinatory vision of the human body rendered with cartoonish intensity. Over the subsequent decades, their work would leave a deep impression on the art of Chicago and beyond.
Much of the Hairy Who’s legacy rests on four self-published books made to accompany their exhibitions. These comic books, as the artists called them, are among the first artist’s books executed in full color, and they are exemplary models of artistic collaboration. The pages teem with unforgettable characters (including Juan Dollar, Poodle Woman, and Lotte Da) rendered in energetic lines and intense colors. The artists’ formal inventiveness and penchant for wordplay are on full display in these illustrations. Even the group’s name is a pun. At one of the first meetings, the younger members were discussing Harry Bouras, a Chicago artist and critic, and they delightedly riffed on Karl Wirsum’s repeated question “Harry who?”
The Collected Hairy Who Publications 1966–1969 gathers these seminal books for the first time in a single hardcover volume, reproducing them at actual size and in full color. Accompanying them are a scholarly essay by Dan Nadel and an extensive archive of Hairy Who posters, exhibition photographs, and ephemera.
Published to accompany the Matthew Marks Gallery version of What Nerve! Alternative Figures in American Art, 1960 to the Present.
Watch the July 2015 panel discussion with Jim Falconer, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Suellen Rocca, and Karl Wirsum.