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Title Taboo Papers
Collection Taboo Papers
Date 1988 - 2008
Type Collection
Catalog Number GR001 001
Creator Anderson, Larry Jens
Source Anderson, Larry Jens
Extent of Description 9 linear feet (7 boxes)
Scope & Content Active from 1988 - 1999, TABOO, an Atlanta based artist collective aspired to provoke and generate dialogue about subjects considered to be "Taboo" in the politically correct and respectful populace of the time, through humorous, sardonic, and quite often outrageous exhibitions and projects. The core group comprised four gay, male artists Larry Jens Anderson (b. 1947), Michael Venezia (1954 - 2000), King Thackston (1948-2004), and David Fraley (1952 - 1999). The exhibitions were primarily funded by the sale of t-shirts designed by the artists, and a sample of each shirt is found within the collection. The majority of the TABOO Papers include: exhibition planning, press, logistical, and financial documents; correspondence, photographs, slides, audio and video tapes; sample design sketches; printed mailers such as flyers and announcements; and artwork and props from the projects and exhibitions undertaken by the group.

Numerous photographs are found throughout the exhibition and project folders including photographs of TABOO artists with a fetish pole, in Howard Finster's studio. Artist Howard Finster was the recipient of noted pole, a feature of the first exhibition in which visitors were encouraged to bring and hang a fetish object from said pole. This first TABOO exhibition, entitled "TABOO," was originally conceived through an informal discourse of artists about the safe and insular Atlanta art scene. To help engender a satisfactory response, the exhibition took place on Good Friday which also happened to be April fool's Day, 1988 and the theme focused on artists' rich interpretations of all that was TABOO. There are few documents from this first exhibition, which comprise exhibition mailers and press release text.

A larger selection of documents and objects exist from the second TABOO curated exhibition, "Johnny Detroit's Brunch," 1989-1990; a show parodying Judy Chicago's Dinner Party," which included 30 place settings by male artists, representing famous men or male characters. Exhibited at Seven Stages Theater in Atlanta, the exhibition subsequently traveled to New Orleans, LA in 1990. Materials relating to the planning stage, such as artist lists and correspondence, invoices and receipts, press releases, reviews, and photographs of the exhibition are divided among several folders.

The group continued its incendiary endeavors and created the Cross Show in 1990, followed by the Tiny Holiday Memories show of 1991. The Cross Show opened on Good Friday 13th, and featured artists' interpretation of the cross... and the crosses they might bear, while the 1991 holiday exhibition included artwork that could be no more than 12" or, as stated on the call for entries document within the collection, works "will be smashed." Accompanying the many exhibition documents about these shows is a curious narrative by artist and core member King Thackston, in which he describes his enthusiasm over the success of the cross show, followed by a serious injury suffered while leaving the exhibition on the night of the opening.

TABOO joined the Atlanta Arts Festival in 1992 and designed a pavilion to contain their exhibition "Angry Love" featuring works depicting the heightened state of passion produced when one is upset or disappointed with the object of one's love. The show engendered some angry responses including a letter from a battered wife organization found among the exhibition files. There is also an "Angry Love" scrapbook with planning documents and letters, and a book of artists' statements among other documents.
In 1994, the "Best in Show installation" was created by TABOO for Atlanta Arts Festival's "Money Changes Everything, or Seeking the Souk" project. The installation consisted of a small gallery with rubber ducks spurring an examination of the relationship between the artist and artist market, investigating among other themes, art, market value, and provenance. Among these planning documents are design sketches and amusing lists of duck provenances.

Within the "Confessions" exhibition folders (1995) is the preliminary design for a call for artists prospectus encouraging artists to "Cleanse your art psyche and tell us what has been secret too long," and noting that the "Best of Show will receive TABOO Sainthood and a trophy." "Gone with the Wind: the Fabrication and Denial of Southern Identity," followed Confessions in 1996, during the Olympics, and received high acclaim as evidenced in the numerous articles and reviews found within the collection. The press kit for this show included white cotton gloves, and a humorous document entitled "To Assist our Foreign & Yankee Visitors: A Glossary of Terms."

Exhibition planning and logistics related folders describe TABOO's 1998 "Testosterone" exhibition, shown at Atlanta's Vaknin Schwartz gallery, featuring artworks depicting subject matter related to the masculine hormone. Finally, "Requiem," (1999) marked the final project in which all four core members took part. Appropriately subtitled "Living Artists Eulogize a Dying Century," the theme required artists to memorialize ideas, events, or concepts significant to the passing 20th century. As part of the Exhibition, TABOO brought in Houston based "The Art Guys," known for ventures like SUITS, in which they leased advertising space for over 50 companies on specially tailored business SUITS, and donned the SUITS all over the United States for a one year period. A flyer announcing their requiem-related project is titled "101 Of The World's Greatest Events All In A Row Tonight Right Before Your Very Eyes And This Time We Really Mean It For Sure." Photographs of The Art Guys in their SUITS walking around Atlanta can also be found within the exhibition folders.

Among the collection general correspondence, a letter and images from Atlanta's Nexus gallery director, addresses the presentation of a shovel received from the four TABOO celebrities for the Nexus groundbreaking ceremony in 1990. Further documents relating to their non-exhibition projects include "This is Art in Cobb County" posters, 1993 and design text and t-shirt for "Idea Sale," 1990, "White Guys Are Ethnic Too" t-shirt 1991, and the Bowling Challenge invitation from 1995, in which TABOO challenged High Museum staff to a bowling competition, stating "Your museum shows nothing but grandma's teacups!" printed directly on the invitation.

After the death of a third member of Taboo, King Thackston, the remaining TABOO member Larry Jens Anderson, and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia joined together to create "The Last TABOO," 2005 and subsequently "TABOO Remembered" in 2008. Folders containing press releases for each of these exhibitions are found within the collection. The TABOO papers also contain several audio cassettes from the "Gone with the Wind" exhibition and "Best in Show," as well as VHS tapes showing footage from the "Confessions," "Johnny Detroit's Brunch" and "Gone with The Wind," exhibitions. A DVD comprised of printed material within the archives collection was compiled for the 2005 memorial exhibition and added to the collection itself. Props from several exhibitions, including fans from "Gone with the Wind," ducks from "Best of Show," and artwork from Johnny Detroit's Brunch including David Fraley's Marquis de Sade complete place setting and a plate from Larry Jens Anderson's Tarzan place setting are also found within the collection.
Biographical History TABOO founding member and Atlanta based artists Larry Jens Anderson (b. 1947), kept the TABOO files on behalf of the collective. Born in Randall, Kansas Anderson received his Bachelor of Arts Education from Wichita State University in 1970. He subsequently earned a Masters in Visual Art from Georgia State University in1982. He has exhibited artwork in Hong Kong, Germany, Belgium, Japan, France, Italy, Australia, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and all over the USA. Anderson's work can be found in the High Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Atlanta, the Mint Museum, Wichita Art Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art, as well as many corporate and private collections. Recurring themes in his work include gender, sexual identity, human rights, politics, religion and mortality expressed through a variety of media including sculpture, painting, drawing and video. In addition to his career as an artist and curator, Anderson has been teaching college in Atlanta and abroad for the past 30 years.
People Anderson, Larry Jens
Venezia, Michael
Thackston, King
Fraley, David
Subjects Art exhibitions
Artists, Atlanta
Artists, Georgia
Artists, Southern
Curatorial groups
Links to Additional Resources The Last TABOO
TABOO Remembered
Access Conditions Access to archives collections is available by appointment.
See attached multimedia content to view scanned materials.
Copyrights Copyright protected. Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required. Please email us at
System of Arrangement The Papers are divided into 10 sequential series, by exhibition. For each series, there are between one and eight exhibition folders separated by subject matter (exhibition planning, logistics, correspondence, press, planning, photographs, etc.). Series 11 includes 3 dimensional materials such as props, t-shirts and sample artwork from the exhibitions.
Containers Box 1, Interior Box 1 Series 1: General TABOO Projects, 1988-2004, TABOO" (first exhibition), 1988
BOX 1 - Interior Box 2: Series 2 - Johnny Detroit's Brunch, 1989-1990
BOX 1 - Interior Box 4: Series 4 - Angry Love, Atlanta Arts Festival, 1992
BOX 1 - Interior Box 5: Series 4 - Angry Love, 1992
BOX 2 - Interior Box 6: Series 5 - Arts Festival-Best of Show (Duck Show), 1994, High Museum Bowlin
BOX 2 - Interior Box 7: Series 6 - Confessions,1994-1995
BOX 2 - Interior Box 8: Series 7 - Gone With the Wind,1996: The Fabrication and Denial of Southern
BOX 2 - Interior Box 9: Series 7 - Gone With the Wind, 1996-1998
BOX 2 - Interior Box 10: Series 8 - Testosterone Show-1998, Series 9 - Requiem-1999
BOX 3 Interior Box 11: Miscellaneous elements from Series 1, 5, 7, 9, 10
BOX 4: Series 2 - Place Setting Johnny Detroit's Brunch, 1989-1990
BOX 5 - 7 - Series 11 (Props & Project and Exhibition T-Shirts)
Child Records "TABOO" exhibition and general TABOO information and projects
"Johnny Detroit's Brunch," 1989-1990
Exhibits ideas 1990, "The Cross Show" 1990, "X-Mas: Tiny Holiday Memories" 1991
"Angry Love," Atlanta Arts Festival, 1992
"Best in Show" Atlanta Arts Festival, 1994 and High Museum Bowling Challenge, 1995
"Confessions," 1995
"Gone with the Wind: the Fabrication and Denial of Southern identity," 1996
"Testosterone Show," 1998
"Requiem: Living Artists Eulogize a Dying Century," 1999
"The Last TABOO," 2005 and "TABOO Remembered," 2008 exhibitions
TABOO Props and Project/Exhibition T-Shirts
TABOO Shovel