Minor Matters of Major Importance: On the Vicissitudes of Minor Painting

Chilver, John. 2022. Minor Matters of Major Importance: On the Vicissitudes of Minor Painting. Journal of Contemporary Painting, 8(1-2), pp. 31-44. ISSN 2052-6695 [Article]

chilver-minor-matters-jcp8-1-2022.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

Download (275kB) | Preview

Abstract or Description

This essay considers how Minor Painting might be defined, not in order to fix a designation, but to assess the broader stakes for it, especially in relation to questions of institutional authority, art’s historicity, art education and the authorial subject. The text foregrounds the case of Jim Shaw in his move from curating the Thrift Store Paintings in the 1990s, to simulating religious cult paintings and beyond. Henry Darger is also discussed in detail. This points to complex questions about art education. Rather than propose resolutions, the text instead traces the frictions between Minor Painting and institutional expectations of art education. The text emphasizes the ultimate inability of Minor Painting to escape or resist the institutional framing of painting. In reading Deleuze and Guattari’s Minor Literature book, it emphasizes the voice of community rather than that of the individual subject. It ends by placing the painter Norman Lewis in relation to a minor intervention within the milieu of abstract expressionism.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Additional Information:

© John Chilver, 2022. The definitive, peer reviewed and edited version of this article is published in Journal of Contemporary Painting, 8, 1-2, p. 31-44, 2022, DOI: 10.1386/jcp_00037_2.


outsider art, art education, teaching painting, Jim Shaw, Henry Darger, Norman Lewis, Minor Literature

Related URLs:

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



12 June 2022Accepted
6 April 2023Published Online

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

24 Nov 2023 09:38

Last Modified:

06 Apr 2024 01:26

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)