The Colorful Apocalypse: Journeys In Outsider Art by Greg Bottoms

Greg Bottoms, a Southerner who now teaches English at the University of Vermont, has written an intense and wonderful book that’s part memoir, part scholarly narrative, and part meditation on the relationship between madness and art.  The Colorful Apocalypse records Bottoms’ thoughts and  observations as he drives across the Deep South and frozen Midwest to interview well known religious “outsider artists” such as Howard Finster, Myrtice West, William Thomas Thompson and Norbert Kox.  Their raw and disturbing apocalyptic paintings have become chic in recent years, despite the radically fundamentalist and anti-Semitic messages which the paintings sometimes promote. 

So what is “outsider art” exactly?  As the author explains,  “Outsider art is not fueled by aesthetic concerns. . .It is more often fueled by passion, troubled psychology, extreme (religious) ideology, faith, despair, and the desperate need to be heard and seen that comes with cultural marginalization and mental unease.”  Aside from Norbet Kox, most outsider artists have never taken an art class, and have avoided social conditioning and indoctrination regarding definitions of “fine art.”  Their work is, for lack of a better phrase, a “labor of love.”

Aside from a reprint of Idolatry: The Drugging of the Nations on the cover, there are no reproductions of the artists’ paintings in the book.  However, you can sample the work of Finster, West, Thompson and Kox by visiting the following websites:

You can also check out Raw Creation: Outsider Art & Beyond and Howard Finster: The Early Years to learn more about the genre.

(Karen Favreau, Hemphill Branch Library)


One Response

  1. THE COLORFUL APOCALYPSE: Conspiracy to Defraud.

    Review and assessment written by Norbert H. Kox (with William Thomas Thompson)

    THE COLORFUL APOCALYPSE: Journeys in Outsider Art, is a compilation of lies and half-truths. Author Greg Bottoms has twisted the truth and fabricated much of the information in the book. His colorful inventions are in many cases total falsehood. The Colorful Apocalypse is a blatant example of inaccurate and deceitful writing (Two thirds of this book is about Norbert H. Kox and William Thomas Thompson, and they are disputing the inaccurate writing with the publisher at this time.)

    We have sent letters to the publisher, proving that the author lied. Some portions of the letters follow here, but space does not allow for full copy.

    Please “google” William and me along with the title of this book, and our painting, Idolatry: the drugging of the Nations. For more details go to our websites.

    We have been slandered quite badly (most of the book is about us). Greg Bottoms has purposely invented things that are not true, to make us look bad, for his own hidden agenda. We are very severely maligned in it. He has written many falsehoods and has even invented false quotations that he has attributed to William and me.

    Here is an example of his deceitful writing.

    Looking at the painting, Bottoms states,

    “At the top of the painting it says, VICARIOUS, which Thompson explains is the word written on the pope’s crown. Vertically down one side VICARIOUS is written again, but this time the letters are read by the artists as Roman numerals: V = 5; I = 1; C = 100. Thompson and Kox have this somehow adding up to 666 (Thompson did something similar, with the Latin word and VICIVILIID, in Revelation Revealed), though I keep getting 106, which deflates some of the conspiracy punch of the painting. Even after talking about it for several minutes, I’m still not, numerically speaking, getting it.” (pp. 84-85, The Colorful Apocalypse)

    In the close-up detail of the painting, Idolatry: The Drugging of the Nations, posted on the Internet, the numerals adding to 666 are clearly seen. It proves an evil plot was perpetrated here to discredit William and me. It is evident that Bottoms has lied to make it appear like Thompson and I do not know what we are talking about. Bottoms invented the word, “VICIVILIID,” we never saw it before. Thompson never used it in a painting.

    Truth from the Idolatry painting:

    The Latin phrase, Vicarius Filii Dei, means, “Taking the place of the Son of God.” The Latin or Roman letters transpose to, VICARIVS FILII DEI. By adding all the letters that have Roman values, the sum total is 666. You can see, that is the truth. V = 5, I = 1, C = 100, I = 1, V = 5, I = 1, L – 50, I = 1, I = 1, D = 500, I = 1. Total = 666. The leftover letters without value are, F-A-R-S-E.

    The letters, which have Roman numeral values, are clearly displayed on the upper left side of the painting, but have conveniently been partially cropped from the image on the front cover of the book. Otherwise, the cover of the book would have contradicted what Bottoms has written. His intentional deceit is openly apparent.

    The picture you see at most of the online bookstores, is not the actual cover. The actual book cover jacket, is cropped off-center to remove completely the Roman Numerals, along with the first digits of the Arabic numbers, thus eliminating the 666.

    This book does not portray the real Thompson and Kox. If you want to know them do a google search.

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