An internationally acclaimed artist whose work has been honored with inclusion in both the Venice Biennale and the Whitney Biennial, James Drake has explored political, social, and universal themes through the media of sculpture, video, installation, photography, and drawing. James Drake, the first monograph devoted to the artist, surveys thirty-five years of Drake’s work up to 2007.
Many of the works reproduced in James Drake reflect the artist’s preoccupation with borders. Some have to do with the political border between the United States and Mexico and the inherent social and psychological tensions of people living in its extreme and unique environment. Other works explore the internal boundaries that people experience as a result of attitudes, prejudices, power, control, and arrogance. Jimmy Santiago Baca’s narrative poem Huitzilopochtli, a personal response to Drake’s work, provides a verbal counterpart to the artist’s theme of border-crossing.
Another prominent subject in Drake’s work is the relationship of people and animals—in particular, the animality that always lurks in human behavior. In his essay “Between Animality and Man,” critic Steven Henry Madoff traces this subject through Drake’s work and shows how Drake uses it to contrast the forces of intellect and instinct, light and darkness.
Interspersed among the color plates are quotations from writers as varied as Cormac McCarthy and Dante. Also accompanying the plates and essays is an introduction by Bruce W. Ferguson, a nationally known art curator, educator, and critic, that places Drake’s work in an art historical context. Lists of James Drake’s works, exhibitions, public collections, and awards, as well as a bibliography of works about Drake, complete this first retrospective of the oeuvre of this major, socially concerned artist, who always “tries to make work as exciting, powerful, and thought-provoking as possible.”