Ordinary Power

The Talismanic Works of an Unknown Artist

First exhibited in 1985 at Fleischer/Ollman in Philadelphia, the works of the "Philadelphia Wireman" are considered a significant contribution to the field of self-taught and vernacular art. In 1982, approximately 1200 sculptures were found discarded in a city alleyway on trash night. The artist's identity remains unknown to this day, though it has been speculated that they were likely an elder African American man who passed away prior to the work's fortuitous discovery.

Made from salvaged components including nails, toys, coins, and batteries, the Philadelphia Wireman works are wrapped in heavy gauge wire for totemic effect, and evidence the artist's consistent dedication to their singular vision. As Fleischer/Ollman put it, "Philadelphia Wireman, whatever his identity, possessed an astonishing ability to isolate and communicate the concepts of power and energy through the selection and transformation of ordinary materials."