Lot 227: KARL WIRSUM, 1969 sgd. letter w/ drawing
December 1, 2016
Falls Church, VA, USALive Auction
Description: [Wirsum, Karl] Karl Wirsum (Amer. 1939-) signed letter to Washington Post art critic Paul Richard, with drawing of artist Joe White. Written and drawn in black pen on a single 8 ½ x 11 in. page with letterhead, signed Karl W. lower left reverse. The figure drawing of Joe White shows Wirsums graphic, cartoon-like style. Wirsum coined the term Hairy Who as a play on Harry Who? meant to make fun of the local Chicago WFMT radio art critic, Harry Bouras. Paul Richard wrote about the Hairy Who in the Washington Post on April 20, 1969, calling their work freaky, meaningless, and bizarre as well as dazzling. Richard was an art critic for the Post from 1967-2009. Don Baum, an artist, served as exhibitions director at the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago from 1956 to 1972. In 1966 Wirsum joined five other artists, James Falconer, Art Green, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, and Suellen Rocca and under Baum staged the Hairy Who show at the Hyde Park Art Center. Alice Shaddle Baum is an artist known for collage paintings constructed of paper fragments. Red Grooms is a multimedia artist whose work features colorful pop-art constructions. In 1967 one of his most famous works, City of Chicago, was on display at the Allan Frumkin Gallery in Chicago and was featured on the cover of LOOK magazine, which is likely the newspaper section mentioned in Wirsums letter. The artist Joe White was living in Washington DC in 1969 and working on abstract watercolors. The letterhead of the Research Cynosure of America and stamp of the N.Y.C. S. Chicago Meeting 3-20-6 underscore Wirsums sense of humor and wordplay. Very slight yellowing of paper, center horizontal crease, red stamp bleed thru to reverse, otherwise very good.