Caked in mud, bearing a lattice appendage of sticks attached to his back, wearing a headdress and a nylon mask, artist Kim Jones's alter ego Mudman began appearing on city streets, on the beach, and in galleries around Southern California in the 1970s. Jones emerged from the performance art movement, and the unsettling, itinerant figure of Mudman connected the abstract, formal investigations of process- and material-based artists with the intense physicality of body-based performances. Mudman was both artistic persona and artistic construction. Part walking sculpture, part shaman, part urban cult figure, Mudman became a powerful icon for an era in some ways defined by the Vietnam war and a fascination with alternative lifestyles and non-Western religious practices. Now living and working in New York City, Jones has become known more recently for his War Drawings, exhaustively detailed pencil and erasure drawings in which x-men and dot-men endlessly engage and disengage.
Mudman is the first comprehensive survey of Jones's performances, installations, and drawings from the 1970s to the present, documenting both his artwork and his process. Published in conjunction with a retrospective of Jones's work, Mudman includes essays that examine the artist's early career, the relation of his work to male fantasies of conflict and the memory of trauma, and his use of the palimpsest and metamorphosis in his drawings.
Julie Joyce, Robert Storr, Kristine Stiles, and Sandra Q. Firmin