An acclaimed singer-songwriter and musician, John Mellencamp, is also an accomplished painter, collector and long-time activist. Born and raised in Seymour, Indiana, where he still lives, Mellencamp started painting at an early age, influenced by his mother, also an artist. Mellencamp had his formal training at the Arts Student League in New York, where he discovered the work of Twentieth-Century Modernists.
As his musical career flourished, Mellencamp began to paint earnestly in the 1980s with an early affinity for portraiture influenced by the works of Otto Dix and Max Beckmann. His kinship with the German Expressionism of the early Twentieth century, with its existential focus on the human condition, serves as the foundation for the development of Mellencamp’s “oeuvre”. His large-scale oil portraits and mixed-media pieces document America’s heart and soul, revealing unsettling but beautiful truths with a kind of anti-establishment frown, with a rich sense of narrative. Like his music, Mellencamp’s paintings are carefully composed through the structural requirements of harmony, rhythm and order, and is thematically in line with the small-town, earnest voice of the heartland.
Mellencamp art collection include Chaim Soutine, Max Beckmann, Jack Levine, Walt Kuhn, among others.
He has exhibited his work in galleries and museums across the United States, including: The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; the Tennessee State Museum, Nashville; The Museum of Art – Deland, Florida; and the Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, Georgia.
He is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, a Grammy winner, recipient of The Woody Guthrie Award, the John Steinbeck Award, ASCAP Foundation's Champion Award, the Americana Music Association's Lifetime Achievement Award, the Founders Award; he co-founder Farm Aid with Willie Nelson – a nonprofit organization whose mission is to keep family farmers on the land.
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