Life and career of David Best, outsider art, famous sculptor are extraordinary. His artwork strikes imagination and move people’s heart.
Things started as we was a little boy (he was born in 1945) with whom he calls his second father, his father-in-law in legal terms. He was a graphic artist and David Best drew with him at six years old as David decided it will become what he wanted to do all his life.
It became his profession. When people ask how he can make a living out of it, David Best, outsider art, famous sculptor answer he does not see himself any different from a journalist, a plumber or a banker. « It is my profession and it is what I do ». Shortly, he acts as an artist for all his life.
When was young, David Best, outsider art, famous sculptor wanted to be a printmaker but the class was closed wheras the sculpture departement needed somebody to fill the quota. A small detail, serendipity, can be a life defining moment.
But David Best, outsider art, famous sculptor started an outsider way by transforming a pickup truck in 1959 into an art car. It was followed by a highly decorated 1960s car, a Ford Falcon, prolegomenon to his Fruitmobile. David Best, outsider art, famous sculptor will even design Houston’s dedicated Art Car Museum. He has done 38 cars and one and a half bus ! For the half bus he was commissionned and the deal was he did half of the bus and they pay for the other half. As they didn’t, he drew a line right down the middle of the bus.
Currently, David Best, outsider art, famous sculptor house is near Petaluma, California.
How David Best, outsider art, famous sculptor became renowned ?
David Best, outsider art, famous sculptor became renowned due to his temples and specifically due to the Burning Man ones. Crazy and costly feast!
The first creation happened naturally, as a shrine to David Best lost comrade. The Burning Man organizers asked him to build the huge Temple of Tears dedicated to people who had died from suicide. Next year came the Temple of Joy.
David Best, outsider art, famous sculptor explains that his constructions are 10% planned and 90% intuitive. Over 100 people work with him, over three to four weeks. The whole construction ends in flames at the end of the event.
As time goes, construction became bigger and bigger and attract more and more people.
Visitors feel the temple is their and leave messages that look like ex-voto we can find in churches. People bring many personal objects, letters, photos or clothing that are pinned inside or on the altar. David Best, outsider art, famous sculptor artwork move people deep inside themselves. It helps people to deal with grief. In the ultimate fire, visitor seek a sense of release, often from violent events, such as rape or suicide.
David Best, outsider art, famous sculptor thinks it is inappropriate for an artist to spend a large amount of money for artwork. Mostly when it is public money. He feels such budget should have a better use on a classroom, kitchen or educational program. Art should reflect the community and not the economy.
To do so, David Best, outsider art, famous sculptor art is made out of junk, looks for material out of garbage cans and wood left in toy manufactures. Even if a project cost money, you have to be pretty discreet about it. Otherwise, « what the hell are you doing » ?
In 2015, a huge temple was built (and burned, of course) in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. A place where bonfire have a particular history. But this time, no question of Protestant nor Catholic fire. A kind of third-way where fire can be built together, a common fire. Based on healing and forgiveness versus ridicule and scorn.
To come back to financial stuff, David Best, outsider art, famous sculptor got some money from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. He also met the San Francisco mayor in a 4m$ loft. But earlier that day, he met a homeless man who gave him 20$ as a commitment to the project. David Best, outsider art, famous sculptor told the mayor « I’ve already got the money I need to build this – I’ve got 20 clean dollars.»
Of course, he had to solicit more funds but those 20$ where high value. He also solicit fundraisers and tools suck as Kickstarter. David Best, outsider art, famous sculptor also have people who have been following him for years whom he can tap for money.
But as he mostly use junk objects, his projects are not costly. In the case of Londonderry, the main cost have been transportation for some of the crew and a training program (he puts a lot of money into this). People are volunteers.
David Best, outsider art, famous sculptor select people on very simple but strict basis : safety and courtesy. For instance, he has zero tolerance for alcohol on the site, particularly because some people are in recovery and David Best wants to provide a safe environment for them. Regarding skills, they no matter for the choice. Someone who perform 10/10 will train someone who perform 0/10.
Always burning the temples is a significant fact. It happened to David Best, outsider art, famous sculptor to feel hard about burning an outstanding temple. But he look at this as life, keep walking! There will be some really beautiful parts of life and some really ugly parts of life, but we have to go ahead.
Once, someone brought a suicide letter 40 years old. It finishes by “I have a gun, it’s under my bed.” Underneath it, someone had typed in on the card: “Hector finally took the gun to his head and killed himself.” The only way to keep the promise to people that if they bring things to the temple, they won’t be made into a souvenir is to burn it.
in 2014 someone brought a dress with blood on it from a rape. Once burned the dress, nor the memory will resurface. It is sealed, it is protected.
Rituals proposed with temples by David Best, outsider art, famous sculptor have something pagan and more accurately cathartic. Deeply human.
If you wish some beautiful photos, I recommand you the page of IBTimes.
The offcial website of the temples of David Best, outsider art, famous sculptor is there.