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Art, Mystery
Art, Mystery

Art, Mystery


117 Pages, 4.25 x 7.25

Formats: Cloth

Cloth, $32.99 (US $32.99) (CA $44.99)

Publication Date: January 2018

ISBN 9781937112202

Rights: US & CA

Drag City (Jan 2018)

Price: $32.99


In Art, Mystery, a controversial former footballer, now export agent specializing in chrome, accepts an unusual commission from an odd source, the very man who brought him down, a former football referee turned art handler — to find and export a pornographic work of Renaissance art. Art, Mystery utilizes the style of crime noir as a delivery system for its high-spirited satire of modern life, catching the gallery scene, footloose Euro-trash, art criticism, the very rich and middle-aged white ennui in its net while hardly pausing for breath. Tersely delivered, with a dry sense of the ridiculous, Art Mystery calmly regards the commodification of aesthetics and their subsequent price-tags as a necessary evil, a machine under which the bodies of his protagonists are rolled. The inclusion of Tile's Antonio Polliauolo files, quoting extensively from E.L. Gombritch's popular study, The Story of Art, provide the raw data of aesthetic value, while providing a framework with which to regard it whimsically. This, along with Tile's drunken deep-dive into scholarly discourse with Dr. Harmoni, give us a sense of the arcana driving the capitalist lust without breaking Thompson's headlong stride or his ability to send up human interplay and its twisted use of language.  Perlat Tile, Pablo Pablon, Ms. Jasmine, Naj, Dr. Enver Harmoni and the rest of the characters of Art, Mystery are sketched definitively, but with an eye on their ambiguous, unknowable depths - the darkness of which only emerges once in a rare while. The rest of the time, Thompson's deft strokes tell us what we need to know as the stakes multiply. Art, Mystery is a strikingly breezy read and a delightful introduction to the literary voice of Mayo Thompson.


"I am impressed with Art, Mystery. Cracking dialogue. I enjoyed reading it. I also thought it was very funny and wore its humour integrally. I mean, like, subtle."  —Josephine Pryde

"With a ratio heavily favoring the amount of cultural scaffolding erected to the number of footbridges burned, Mr. Mayo, a self-styled refusalist, has stood slyly in the margins of multiple worlds for decades."  —Keith Connelly, BOMB

"Since 1967, Texan guitarist Mayo Thompson has been pulverising the art and language of rock."  —David Keenan, The Wire

Author Biography

Art, Mystery is Mayo Thompson's first published work of fiction since he entered public life in the nineteen-sixties. He is best known for his work with the psychedelic band, The Red Krayola, whose work from then until now has provided alternative questions and answers and much inspiration for those in the music-making racket. Over the years, he has based himself in Houston, New York, London, Berlin and Los Angeles, fostering a long relationship with the arts collective Art & Language since the mid-'Seventies. Thompson is also known work for his work as a record producer, mostly that with bands connected with Rough Trade Records and other labels in the late-'Seventies, and early- to mid-'Eighties—Stiff Little Fingers, The Raincoats, The Fall and James 'Blood' Ulmer being examples. Since 2012, when a continuous performance of the band was staged via Skype during the Whitney Biennial, he has begun openly to pursue his lifelong interest in visual art. He is represented by the Greene-Naftali gallery, with whom he exhibited new works in 2015.