Sunday, February 15, 2009

From the Museum of Kitsch

Painted ceramic
Approximately 26” tall
Artist unknown

A simple work of art with a simple name belies its complex texture of coincidence and contradiction. This work in ceramic, by an unknown artist, reveals its functional nature by the inch and a half long slot in its upper bank. Clyde is a bank. A piggy bank to be precise.

But not content with the traditional visage of a simple, unadorned pig to dominate the work, the artist has chosen to imbue Clyde with additional qualities appropriate to his duties of guarding a stash of money by depicting the porcine protector as an old west sheriff, complete with six guns and bullets on his belt, his itchy trigger fingers at the ready to plug the first varmint that threatens to make a move. Or perhaps the position of Clyde's hands is simply in trying to keep his pants from falling down. Clyde is identified by the name primitively engraved on the large buckle on his belt.

Far ahead of its time, some would even say prophetic, is the fact that the artist chose to depict a law enforcement officer as a pig. Then again, if this piece was constructed in the late 1960s, the artist, perhaps an anti-war activist himself, may have harbored a grievance that inspired his choice of occupation for Clyde.

A soft smile and goo-goo eyes are at odds with the serious nature of Clyde’s mission, and his five-pointed sheriff star contradicts the fact that sheriff stars traditionally consist of seven points. The inclusion of a lopsided bandanna hints at an informal exterior that masks a will of hardened steel – or hardened ceramic, as the case may be. The careless placement of the bandanna may also indicate a character flaw - Clyde is, after all, a pig.

That the name of this piece hails from one half of a famous duo of bank robbers only adds to the richness of its incongruities.

Clyde resides in a private collection in northern Illinois and has fallen into a state of decay. There are currently no plans to restore the piece to its former glory.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2009 James Jordan.

1 comment:

Heather said...

I have been searching everywhere for this... I have a ceramic pig bank just like this mine is yellow tones and his belt buckle says "big boy" i recently saw one on tv at a pawn shop that has a female with it. i am looking to attempt to get a few more like him but have little to no information on him. I have been looking for quite some time and your photo and info is the only thing i have found so far... can you help in any way? Heather Spellman- please help.. thank you