Art media

The Art Angle podcast: Why artist Jayson Musson is clowning around in a humorless art world

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Jayson Musson has a unique status in the art world: he has the personality and perspective of an outsider, but he is also a bit of an artist’s artist. Originally from the Bronx, Musson got his creative start in Philadelphia in the 2000s, creating cerebral and satirical street art; writing a column for the Philadelphia Weekly called “black like me“; and play in the cult hip-hop group small plasticwho released songs like “I’m Not a Thug”, “Rap O’Clock” and “Miller Time”.

Musson unexpectedly appeared on the radar again in 2010 with “Art Thoughtz,” a DIY YouTube series that immediately became a valuable reference in art schools and art media. It featured Musson as the character “Hennessy Youngman,” fusing the styles of Art Theory Lecture and Def Comedy Jam, monologue on everything from notions of beauty at The trend of Damien Hirst make funny faces in press photos. It was cool enough to surprise, and knowing enough to be a success.

Musson has worked in a variety of styles over the past decade, from painting and sculpture to children’s books and mix tapes. He’s back this month with a very different take on arts education in Philadelphia Fabric Workshop and Museum. Titled “His Art History,” the new show has a typically quirky premise. It takes the form of a combination sitcom and PBS edutainment entertainment, with Musson as Jay explaining the value of art history to Ollie, a rabbit played by a puppet. And there are plenty of other surreal detours along the way.

Ben Davis, Artnet News national art critic and Jayson Musson fan, recently had the opportunity to speak to the artist about his unusual career and the idea behind his new riff on the history of art.

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