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Howard Finster Wipe Rag Art

Item Details

A mixed media wipe rag art by artist Reverend William Howard Finster (American, 1916-2001), executed on June 20, 1989. Finster kept a pile of rags that he wiped his paint brushes on and used a sharpie marker to outline the paint splotches which he saw as ‘hobgoblins.’ The rags are stapled to door panel which Finster bought from a sale at the lumber yard down the street from Paradise Garden. A long inscription to the lower part of the frame describes the work and notes that the sale of the cloths help support Paradise Garden. To the verso is an inscription from Finster labeling the piece as number 10,000.032 since he started in 1976, with his signature and infamous ’Noah’s Ark Bird’ doodle.

Howard Finster was a minister for over forty years in Alabama, the place where he was born. After retirement he moved to Summerville, Georgia, where he turned his swampland into Paradise Garden in reflection of his religious beliefs and a vision that sent him on a mission to create sacred art. Finster used oil, watercolor, lacquer and other paints on found objects and salvaged pieces of glass and cardboard to make religious folk art creations. His works have been featured on album covers for popular rock bands such as the Talking Heads which was featured as the 1985 album of the year in Rolling Stones Magazine, as well as on REM’s Reckoning album cover. Perhaps his most well known work is the eight foot tall Coca-Cola bottle commissioned for the 1996 Olympic Games global art project. Finster promised God he would create 5,000 paintings in his lifetime and in the end created 46,991 numbered pieces.


17.5" W x 22.0" H x 1.0" D

- measures the frame; visible image area 13.5" W x 18" H.

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