MAD AS HELL: The Collages of Richard Saholt
October 2, 2015 - January 3, 2016
Opening Reception October 2, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Curated by Michael Bonesteel
Intuit presents an exhibition of collages by World War II veteran Richard Saholt (1924-2014) of Minneapolis. Saholt achieved a modest kind of fame in the 1990s and early 21st century for creating large-format collages that combined lurid commercial illustrations with powerful words and phrases appropriated from printed magazine and newspaper headlines. Although most of his works are untitled, they are all marked by key phrases such as “Wild Hell Assault Company,” “My Life 30 Years Later, Memories of War Remain,” “Attack, The Blood Bath,” “Night Never Ending,” and “Stress, Sanity and Survival.” Traumatized as a child by his sadistic father, the already psychologically damaged young man enlisted in the US Army’s elite Tenth Mountain Ski Troop Division and earned a Bronze Star for bravery, but he returned home with post-traumatic stress disorder and was subsequently diagnosed with chronic undifferentiated schizophrenia. When the Veterans’ Administration refused to recognize and assist Saholt with the mounting physical and mental problems that he felt were exacerbated by his combat experiences, his anger and frustration increased.
He finally turned to expressing himself by collaging text and pictures in obsessively composed compositions that shrieked of the terror of war and the horror of mental illness. As Saholt poured out his rage into these passionate works of art, the viewer finds respite only by focusing on their intricate lyrical beauty. In this respect, such works fit in with some of the most extreme forms of traditional art brut.
In addition to the above subjects, Saholt devoted a number of collages to famous celebrity figures such as Prince Charles and Lady Diana, Anwar Sadat, Pope Paul II, Natalie Wood, John Belushi and John Wayne Gacy, as well as socially and politically charged topics like gun control, cigarette smoking, child abduction and Watergate. On several occasions, the artist took to collaging folders inside and out, and filling them with numerous sheets of smaller collage works. In one instance, he collaged nearly every page of a psychology textbook with images and autobiographical writings, titling it: “The Richard Saholt Story.”
Upon his death, Saholt bequeathed outsider art historian and author Michael Bonesteel a sizable number of his collages, and it from this collection that Bonesteel has selected the work in this show.