Jack Savitsky was born in 1910. He lived in Pennsylvania where he began working in the coal mines at a young age. Both his parents were immigrants, his father from Russia and his mother from Poland. He was a miner for 35 years, until 1959. In retirement he took up painting, depicting the activity he knew best, mining coal. Mr. Savitsky died in 1991 from complications related to Black Lung Disease.
He was self-taught, depicting his coal mining scenes with bold lines, shapes and colours and stylized figures.
Another painter who depicted people doing their job was Chuckie Williams, sometimes known as the Artist Chuckie or Painter Chuckie, or sometimes Psychic Talent, Christ True Genius or Ghost Talent. Whichever name he was using was usually featured on the painting.
Artist Chuckie was born in 1957 in Shreveport Louisiana. He lived at home with his mom until his death in 2000 at the young age of 42. Chuckie liked to paint pop stars, such as En Vogue and Atlantic Starr and Michael Jackson. The work of being a pop star is far different from that of a coal miner. Chuckie used found materials such as plywood and cardboard. As well as music video stars, he also painted talk show hosts and athletes, and more. Unlike Savitsky, who was drawing on his own work experience, Chuckie was not himself a big time celebrity. I imagine he used publicity photos as source material.
Chuckie apparently claimed to have become a genius at age 22. I wonder if it was a specific event that triggered this realization.
Coal miners to celebrities to….generals!
Enrico Baj was an Italian painter born in 1924. He passed in 2003. Mr. Baj was a prolific artist who also contributed to a number of manifestos. His work was often as humourous as it was politically charged.
Baj painted many generals:
“To be decorated and to receive a medal to pin on your chest is everybody’s dream. Our very highest ambition is to become generals, commanders, professors, magnates of industry and thus to be able to give orders and to predispose the destinies of things and events. A Sicilian proverb say far sweeter to command than to fuck.”
On his paintings of generals, Baj glued actual military medals, literally decorating his commanders. He loved to stick things on.
“And modern technology has given me apoxy glue, that portentous paste that can stick anything onto anything, even memories, even dust, even honors and dishonors. You just stick it all down on a canvas – old loves, pains, stomach aches, medals, lace, placards and mirrors, mirrors that are broken apart and that give me a broken image of myself, and I like it better that way.” (from preface for a film short by Raffaele Andreassi, Paris, 1966.