Four and Twenty Blackbirds . . .
The cover of this remarkable book of the autistic savant Gregory L. Blackstock's art is from "The Great World Crows", a work picturing concisely and accurately twenty species of crows from around the world. (See accompanying cover illustration.) "Crows" demonstrates the artist's "gift of drawing", a medical term first used nearly one hundred years ago to describe the "extraordinary artistic, musical, mathematical and mechanical abilities" possessed by ten percent of persons with autism.
Now called Savant Syndrome, Dr. Darold Treffert , the author of the book's valuable introduction, states that the syndrome is "always linked with prodigious memory, typically very visual and exceedingly deep . . .within the confines of the interest or ability." Even so, it comes as a surprise that Blackstock's art is all done from memory! Amazing. Take "The Great World Jungle Butterflies," twenty-four distinct examples rendered with the attention to detail you would expect of an expert lepidopterist.
First Published in 2006 by Princeton Architectural Press, the book -- the copy I am working from is the fifth edition -- has elevated Blackstock's work to the pinnacle of early 21st Century outsider art. Blackstock refers to his works as "lists". There are over one hundred all told, most of them in black and white, some of the more spectacular in color. "The Weathers", which he chose for the frontispiece, for one. Check out the "Thundershower." "Colorful Egg Patterns Favorites to Go For", consists of sixty eggs decorated with flags and a number of whimsical designs, e.g." 8-Color Spotted Egg". He uses color for "The Art Supplies" and "The Noisemakers" which includes the "Loud Filthy-Mouth Offender, The Overemotional Dirtbag!"
The book is a treasure from cover to cover. It wasn't intended as a source book for writers, painters, architects or songwriters, but, as they say, if the shoe fits, and it does, wear it. My hope is that the U.S.Postal Service will see fit to commission Blackstock to create a series of stamp designs, say of bird houses or covered bridges or lobster boats. And I have to think his designs will show up as tattoos, if they haven't already.
End note. Blackstock's artistic development and commercial success have been aided by Karen Light-Pena and her colleagues at Seattle's Garde Rail Gallery. Go to its web site for information about Blackstock's new work (you'll love it) and about works for sale. firstname.lastname@example.org. And, while you are at it, thank them for helping to bring Blackstock's work to our attention. FYI, my enthusiasm for the work is spontaneous, based entirely on its merits. No consideration sought or received.