Depending on your agenda, Christmastime can be a celebration of the baby Jesus, a basically secular exchange of gifts, or an opportunity to travel against the recommendation of health experts and super-spread COVID-19 to your entire family! But it’s also something else, as captured in American Christmas, a new art book by photographer Danelle Manthey that frames the practice of Christmas decoration as a kind of folk art — peace on earth and installation art for all!
Using medium-format film photography, Manthy has spent the better part of a decade traveling the country to collect images of suburbanites and their Christmas assemblages — from collections of blow-mold figurines, to tiny tabletop villages, to eye-popping light displays. Each image is accompanied by an interview conducted by Manthey, capturing her subject’s thoughts on the reason for the season and the importance of their elaborate and time-consuming annual installations. Image titles provide a sneak peek into each person’s take on their decorative practice, which often stem from family legacies spanning generations.
Manthey’s photographs capture Christmas artists of all ages, with displays spanning a range of media, but her subjects are much less diverse. If American Christmas were a representative sample, the conclusion would be that elaborate Christmas kitsch is exclusively the purview of white people. This can only reflect a trend in Manthey’s approach to her subjects, since it’s known that many people throw themselves into their Christmas art, regardless of race or even religion. The images are beautiful, and the connection to Christmas decoration as a folk form is fascinating and well-researched, but one cannot help but wonder if White Christmas might be a more accurate title for the book, rather than its aspiration to capture all of the Americas.
American Christmas by Danelle Manthey, is now available via the artist.
Coasting the Topography of South Asian Futurisms
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Sadaf Padder presents an exhibition to offer insight into her curatorial process.
I’m a Florida Drag Queen and I’m Scared
I’m truly at a loss for what to do for work and what kind of life I can expect to live.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
An Artist’s Hopeful Vision of the Ocean
Indonesian artist Mulyana crafts a tactile, mystical world in which fish, whales, and coral reefs coexist with sea monsters.
An Introduction to “Afrogallonism”
Serge Attukwei Clottey explores Ghanaian culture and identity through discarded jerrycans and other found materials.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
A Ride With Liz Cohen
Nothing in the artist’s personal biography could predict that she’d one day become a car builder and bikini model.
LA’s Hammer Museum Wants to Be Seen
After two decades of renovations, the museum that calls itself a “well-kept secret” reopens with a mission to be more visible.
The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation Presents The Feminine in Abstract Painting
Curated by Jennifer Samet and Andrea Belag, this group exhibition in NYC explores the feminine through aesthetics, as opposed to identity or gender.
AI-Generated “Dope Francis” Fools the Internet
Many thought the picture of Pope Francis in a puffer jacket, created using Midjourney, was the real deal.
1,400-Year-Old Mural of Two-Faced Man Found in Peru
Historians hypothesize that the Moche paintings could represent artists’ attempts to experiment with portraying movement or narrative.
NYU Steinhardt Opens 2023 MFA Thesis Exhibitions
Taking place at 80WSE Gallery in New York’s Greenwich Village, Part I is on view from late March through April while Part II opens in May.
Louvre Shutters as Pension Plan Protests Intensify
President Macron’s plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64 has sparked widespread demonstrations across the country.
They Managed to Mess Up an Art Heist Movie
There must be a lesson in Vasilis Katsoupis’s film Inside about the vacuousness of the art market or the claustrophobia of exhibition spaces — I just don’t care.