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Behind James Edwards Deeds’ art hides the story of a young American, born in 1908 in Springfield, Missouri, and forcibly committed to a psychiatric hospital at the age of 17. He would spend his whole life there, enduring electroshock treatments up to twice a week, without anaesthetic.

James Edward Deeds - © christian berst — art brut
Date 1908 — 1987
Country United States

Deeds spent the rest of his life in an asylum, undergoing shock treatment – without any anesthesia – up to twice a week. His pencil and crayon drawings with their meticulous, quaintly-styled lines on small sheets of hospital letter-headed paper show figures, references to the civil war, automobiles and urban landscapes in a rural setting, an imaginary world–the world he used as an escape from his broken life.

Hailed by the US press, including Art in America and the New York Times, as soon as his work was discovered, Deeds is now considered a “classic Art Brut artist” of the 20th century. After the catalogue raisonné of his work was published, a documentary made by Neville Bean and Robert Vandeweghe, The Mystery of the Electric Pencil, told the fascinating, tragic story of Deeds. The Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne shows a retrospective of his work in 2013.

Please contact us to inquire about the available works.
Anchor Rolling Mills / meriner (263/264), recto-verso, 1950
8.27 x 9.06 in
Cherokey girl / steamboat (40/41), both sides, 1950
8.27 x 9.06 in
Mont Stella light weight / animals (237/238), recto-verso, 1950
Miss Brown / United States’s polars (66/67), both sides, 1950
8.27 x 9.06 in
yong hunter / steamboat (85/86), both sides, 1950
8.27 x 9.06 in
Endia Girl / steam boat (237/238), recto-verso, 1950
8.27 x 9.06 in
james edward deeds the electric pencil #2
James Edward Deeds : the electric pencil #2 - © christian berst — art brut

Preface : Philippe Piguet
Forewords : Christian Berst
Catalog published to mark the exhibition james edward deeds  : the electric pencil #2, from September 9 to October 2, 2022

james edward deeds :
the electric pencil #2. From September 9 to October 2, 2022.
Sereno variavel
curated by Antonia Gaeta, Centro de Arte Oliva, São João da Madeira. From October 31, 2020 to May 2, 2021.
Sexual Personae
curated by Alison M. Gingeras, Hôtel Drouot, Paris. From October 21 to 29, 2020.
Vestiges & Verse
Notes from the Newfangled Epic, American Folk Art Museum, New York. From January 21, 2018 to December 27, 2017.
Art Brut
A Story of Individual Mythologies , Treger Saint Silvestre Collection, Portugal . From January 1 to February 26, 2017.
View more
at the Gallery. From September 12 to October 10, 2015.
Art brut
ABCD Collection / Bruno Decharme, la Maison rouge, Paris. From October 17, 2014 to January 18, 2015.
The Wall
Antoine de Galbert Collection , la Maison rouge, Paris. From June 14 to September 21, 2014.
Art brut: breaking the boundaries
curator Christian Berst, Oliva Creative Factory, Sao Joao da Madeira, Portugal. From June 1 to September 11, 2014.
Collecting Madness
Outsider Art from the Damman Collection Volume #2, Prinzhorn Collection, Allemagne . From March 14 to April 14, 2014.
james edward deeds
the electric pencil, at the gallery. From November 29, 2013 to January 18, 2014.
James Edward Deeds
Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne. From March 15 to June 30, 2013.
vue de l'exposition *art brut : a story of individual mythologies*, works from the treger saint silvestre collection, oliva creative factory, são joão da madeira, portugal, 2017. - © oliva creative factory, christian berst — art brut
Press review
Paris, christian berst art brut : James Edward Deeds, the electric pencil #2
Pierre Aimar, Sortir Ici Et Ailleurs. August 24, 2022.
the electric pencil #2
Damien Aubel, Transfuge. August 19, 2022.
The Incredible Story of ‘Drawings from Inside State Hospital No. 3’
Gabrielle Bruney, Vice. May 13, 2016.
Staff Picks: Deadened Hues, Deer Boys, Dullard Fiancés
Rakin Azfar, The Paris Review. March 11, 2016.
Quiet Drawings from a Life Lost in Mental Institutions
Allison Meier . February 9, 2016.
View more
le nouveau pôle de l’art brut
Véronique Bouruet-Aubertot, Connaissance Des Arts. February 2, 2015.
l’art brut sous les feux des projecteurs
La Rédaction, La October 15, 2014.
interview de christian berst sur l’exposition James Edward Deeds
Laurent Goumarre, France Culture. January 14, 2014.
James Edward Deeds, entretien avec le galeriste christian berst
Stéphanie Pioda, AMA Newsletter. January 9, 2014.
La finesse de l’art brut
Philippe Dagen, M Le Magazine Du Monde. January 4, 2014.
James Edward Deeds, The electric pencil
Sophie Lespiaux, January 2, 2014.
Plongée dans l’univers psychiatrique avec les dessins de James Deeds
La Rédaction, La Lettre AMA. December 13, 2013.
James Edward Deeds
Léa Chauvel-Lévy, Slash. December 10, 2013.
James Edward Deeds- Recto verso
David Gabriel Kavafy, Feuille D’ortie. December 10, 2013.
James Edward Deeds
Philippe Dagen, Le Monde. December 9, 2013.
James Deeds, un trésor bien gardé
Aurélie Romanacce, Arts Magazine. November 26, 2013.
James Edward Deeds : une BEAUTÉ électroCONVULSIVE
Animula Vagula, November 25, 2013.
3 days in Paris : Christian Berst présente James Edward Deeds
Mélanie Taverny, November 25, 2013.
Musée national d’art moderne (Pompidou)
Carmen and Daniel Klein collection
abcd / Bruno Decharme collection
Treger Saint Silvestre collection
Antoine de Galbert collection
View more
collection Sylvie and Stéphane Corréard
Dammann collection
james edward deeds : the electric pencil #2
Exposition monographique | du 9 septembre au 2 octobre 2022 Vernissage | samedi 10 septembre de 14h[…]
James Edward Deeds

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