NYC Street Poets and Visionaries
A secret history of New York as told through classified ads and advertising posters salvaged from the city's streets
Between the late 1980s and 2020, from the end of the Reagan era to the beginning of Covid, the New York–based artist and author Kenneth Goldsmith collected hundreds of classified ads and other advertising posters from the streets of the city. Hilarious, offbeat, absurd and sometimes breathtakingly beautiful, the ads are united by their unpredictability as well as their total lack of utility. Whether or not they intentionally drew from the aesthetics of Art Brut, Cubism or concrete poetry, they align in any case with the basic thesis of artistic modernity: to take an object and to divert it from any practical aim.
Across the 500 pages of this volume, Goldsmith traces almost 40 years of American history as told from the margins, through his personal collection of objects made by "street poets and other visionaries." Through detailed introductions to each chapter, Goldsmith reflects on the boundaries between art and advertisement, as well as the notion of insider and outsider artists.