David Sandlin

A Sinner’s Progress: The Beast Years of My Life: 1995–2011

David Sandlin

A Sinner’s Progress: The Beast Years of My Life: 1995–2011




Offset print, Silkscreen


Artist Book

$ 25,000.00


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Library of Congress (LoC)

A Sinner’s Progress is David Sandlin’s epic series of illustrated books, which explore the shady terrain between ostensive sin and armchair salvation, situated at the crossroads of high art and low brow humor. His allegorical Everyman, Bill Grimm, journeys through a contemporary suburban landscape animated by manifestations of lust, sloth, wrath, and the rest of the seven cardinal sins. Produced as hand-silkscreened and limited-edition offset publications, the sardonic narrative cycle reflects anxieties that erupt in an Irish-American stew of evangelical fervor, laissez-faire capitalism, and institutionalized intolerance, as Sandlin’s citizen Grimm seeks his own “gate of glory.”

Sandlin’s richly layered visual imagery, epigrammatic use of language, and convoluted plots bring to mind a host of artistic precedents — many of whom Sandlin pays homage to in A Sinner’s Progress. His love of inventive language, especially puns, finds full expression in the books, tracing a lineage to both traditions for which he claims a congenital affinity: Irish literature and American country music. Bill Grimm’s dream-state activities owe an obvious debt to Winsor McKay’s seminal comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland (1905-1913). The books’ cartoonish drawing style echoes the deceptive whimsy found in H. C. Westermann’s art, including his illustrated letters, which Sandlin particularly admires. And the entire cycle seems to channel the spirit of Francisco Goya’s Los Caprichos, a suite of etchings that comment mercilessly on the social, political, and religious hypocrisy of Goya’s day. The best-known plate from that series offers a direct key to interpreting Sandlin’s perplexing Progress, the image inscribed “The Sleep of Reason Brings Forth Monsters.” Referencing the present day as well, Sandlin playfully inserts visual allusions to the art of some of his favorite contemporaries, Jim Nutt, Peter Saul, Gary Panter, and Matt Groening, each of whom is known for poking a figurative finger in the collective eye of an indolent society.’

– Dennis Harper, Georgia Museum of Art

A seven-volume series of artists’ books:

  • The Beast Years of My Life, 1995, silkscreen on paper and book cloth, edition of 40.
  • Wrathland, 1996, silkscreen on paper and book cloth, edition of 30.
  • Road to Nowhere, 1998, silkscreen on paper and book cloth, edition of 25.
  • The Avengelist, 2004, 2-color offset print on newsprint with cardboard covers, edition of 500.
  • An Alphabetical Ballad of Carnality, 2006, trade book, edition of 500.
  • Swamp Preacher, 2006, trade book, unlimited edition.
  • Slumburbia, 2009, silkscreen on paper and book cloth, edition of 20.