Joe Coleman Gets a Retrospective at Tilton Gallery
Mr. Coleman says his obsession with religion and death goes back to his childhood. Growing up in Norwalk, Conn., he recalled, he played in the cemetery across the street, lived in fear of his alcoholic father and went to church with his mother, an excommunicated Roman Catholic. Placed in a school for disturbed children, he doodled bloody martyrs and once confessed to a priest that he had committed several murders.
After moving to New York in the mid-1970s, he studied briefly and unhappily at the School of Visual Arts, before being expelled, he said, for making art that his teachers called fascist and schizophrenic. Meanwhile he drew underground comics, began to exhibit in small East Village galleries and appeared in independent films like David Wojnarowiczs Where Evil Dwells, in which he was typecast as Satan.
Through the 1980s Mr. Coleman acted out his shocking and violent cosmology in infamous performances at performin