I suppose the start of all this nonsense was when I (Sal Marino) began doing these doodles in high school, about a hundred and eighty-seven years ago and continued throughout my life as ephemeral imagery. My early art pandering took me through photographic exploits and aspirations as an assistant for Ralph Gibson, a well known contemporary photographer with ties to Dorethea Lange and Robert Frank. As such I became a fly on the wall of the New Your City art-scene elite, rubbing shoulders with some of the “big” names of the day. It was the kind of education you couldn’t buy at any trendy art school, and one which seasoned my muse well into adulthood.

                Throughout my life I endeavored to satisfy my lust for artistic expression, yet I felt my efforts fell short of the aura surrounding the established names. Nonetheless I naively experimented with different media and different approaches in an attempt to satisfy my desire for artistic expression. All the while, these seemingly insignificant doodles remained in the unconscious background, pulsing a rhythm of the underlying reality that was to become my defining signature.

                Some time ago it was suggested by both friends and peers that I turn these doodles into fine-art paintings. Being a self-taught painter, I never believed I could pull it off but the muse tugged at me and although my technical abilities fall far short of my comprehension of accomplished artists, the social commentary of my imagery garnered some attention. It seems that naivety in art is acceptable as long as the content provides some inspiration and provokes thought. My work began to evolve and I readily accepted the categorization by some of ‘Folk Art’.

                As my images began to attract attention, a fellow artist asked what I called my stuff. Not giving it much thought I simply stated that I was just having fun, merely concerned with message, not identity. Initially I declined to call it anything, but as time went on and at the insistence of some individuals who just love labels I called it “Funism”. Thus The Funism Art Movement Began.

                Another fellow artist and peer, Jay Smithline of Calabasas, California saw merit in the identity of The Funism Art Movement and considering a parallel of philosophies and experience we set about establishing and promoting the movement.  Smithline, an important contemporary American artist was anointed Funism’s West Coast Ambassador, while I wore the robes of the movement’s founder and head “Funist” on the east coast.  Together we established a non-manifesto, manifesto which sought to “break the rules of traditional understandings of over-intellectualized art”.  In 2001 and 2002 I claimed copyright to “The Funism Art Movement” ; “Funist Art” and “Funism”.

                As the movement began attracting attention from peers and patrons alike, I issued a call (c2002) to artists of similar philosophy to join the movement and identify their works as “Funism” or “Funist Art”. Within a very short time several artists sheltered under the umbrella of The Funism Art Movement and began identifying their efforts as “Funism”.  The Funism Art Movement began to emerge as a sub-movement of contemporary art and is enjoying some popularity in the art world.

                Somewhere around 2007 an artist emerged from relative obscurity, claiming that he founded the movement some ten years earlier, and began blogging around the internet in self-authored posts of his spurious claims. The irony of this individual’s claims is that his back-dated posts did not appear until sometime around 2007, long after the movement had been established.  He even went so far as to claim that a manifesto he authored (which he readily admits he altered and added to over time) was the movement’s manifesto, yet there is no time/ dated documentation which would evidence his claims. It would stand to reason that if these claims had any merit there would be substantial third party evidence of articles, reviews, inclusion in collections, etc., which would substantiate his self-authored boasts. What does exist, however, is the fact that this individual is actively engaged in “Art Pranks, Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking” as evidenced by his membership on a website titled “Art of the Prank” and other cultural doubt casting organizations. (Google Serch:  Funism -Theft of Intellectual Property; Funism-Copyright Infringement)

                History alone (or perhaps the efforts of an amateur forensic detective) will prove the true origins of The Funism Art Movement.  It will dispel the false endeavors of pranksters who seek to disrupt, steal and discredit the creative efforts of others while attempting to refocus the attention on themselves through their nefarious deeds. Truth like sweet cream always rises to the top…


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Tags: Dorethea, Frank, Funism, Gibson, Jay, Lange, Marino, Ralph, Robert, Sal, More…Smithline., origins


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