Friday, September 28, 2012

Jack Kerouac, Painter

by Stephen J. Gertz

An original, untitled drawing of Jesus' crucifixion executed in colored crayons by Beat novelist Jack Kerouac recently came to market, went on the road and onto a collector's wall, lickety-split, for $7,500.

The scene depicts the shadow of Christ on the cross with three figures in the foreground attending to his body as an angel descends from heaven. In the background, a man, presumably, Judas, hangs from a gallows as the sun shines over distant hills. Kerouac boldly signed his name in the lower left corner.

Kerouac made the drawing for a favorite niece, using her crayons and sketch paper. Catholicism, which played such a strong, if subtly understated and misunderstood role in his novels and cosmology, is overt here.

Though a spontaneous work, this untitled painting is a rich, fully realized piece on a par with some of Kerouac's best art as found in his Departed Angels: The Lost Paintings (2004).

The appearance of this painting for public sale was something of an event: Kerouac's visual art is held mostly by institutions and examples are exceedingly scarce in the marketplace.

Image courtesy of Royal Books, with our thanks.

Of related interest:

When Kerouac Met Dostoyevsky.

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