The Miscellaneous Tools (c.1975)
GREGORY L. BLACKSTOCK (1946-2023)
Black marker and gouache on paper; signed bottom right
In handmade frame
Gregory Blackstock was one of the most unique and strangely-gifted artists of the last 50 years.
As a child, he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and spent his early life at special boarding schools for trouble children and then in menial jobs. It was only well into adulthood that he was found to fit the profile of an autistic savant – and a prodigious autistic savant.
The discovery in 2004 of hundreds of rolled up artworks catapulted him to the attention of the art world. The drawings and paintings were meticulous and comprehensive typologies of everything from penguins to fighter planes, centres of world power to painful plants. All subjects in which he held a personal interest and of which he had an encyclopaedic knowledge and astonishing visual recall.
He had his first solo show in his native Seattle aged 58 and then exhibited in Geneva, Lausanne, New York, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Paris, London and Vienna.
He is the subject of the PBS animated short film, ‘The Great World of Gregory Blackstock.’ His work is in the collections of the Seattle Art Museum, the Collection de l’Art Brut, and the Microsoft Corporate Art Collection. He died on 10 January 2023.
This is a particularly significant example of Blackstock’s work. The first recorded instance of his cataloguing the world was in his late twenties. While working as a janitor in a hotel, he became fascinated with the various tools found in the maintenance room and created a drawing titled, simply, “The Tools.”