- Historic Sites
The Paintings Of Mr. Otis
A “primitive-moderne” spoofs American art and history.
April 1959 | Volume 10, Issue 3
A new talent burst on the art world a few months ago, a talent which lies somewhere between Jackson Pollock and Gluyas Williams and within shouting distance of Maxfield Parrish. His name is simply Mr. Otis, and he comes from Portland. Oregon. His work is painted laboriously, by hand, with real oil. He was sprung on an unsuspecting public by the Macmillan Company in a book called Mr. Otis. The author of the book, which is both a biography of the artist and a fine satire on modern art, is a steady contributor to AMERICAN HERITAGE, Stewart H. Holbrook, author of a variety of books, from The of Age of the Moguls to Lost Men of American History. Since Mr. Holbrook also lives in Portland and has as great a corner on Otises as Jay Gould once had on the Erie, there is good reason to believe, if not assert, that this is more than a Gertrude Stein-Alice B. Toklas relationship, and that Otis is in fact Holbrook. We present here some samples of his searching commentaries on American history in a “primitive-moderne” style which, as one critic observed, if no worse, is “no better than Picasso.”