Frank Koci - Artist

Koci was an outsider artist of the 20th century. He left a treasure of art that cast light on the Beat era.

Frank Koci - Artist

Koci was an outsider artist of the 20th century. He left a treasure of art that cast light on the Beat era.

Frank Koci

Frank Koci

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"Art is not a question of infinite harmony with the universe but rather the infinite joy and sadness rising from one's experience."


Frank Koci might have been called a Street Artist but this exceptionally creative artist was extremely more than that. In 1921 the 16-year old Frank Koci left his native Czechoslovakia, hoping to find better opportunities in America. He and his mother had been living close to poverty. His father was killed in Italy fighting for the Austrian Empire in the Great War and they had been living on a meager pension. His mother was a very religious woman and an uncle was a preacher. Koci in his memoirs had much to say about religion: he had no use for it. "Religion is not only an opium, it's insanity" and "Capitalist - Religious tyranny", "And nothing is more materialistic than the church and the fear of death that makes for plenty of jobs for the priesthood."

Frank Koci, Artist

In his memoirs, written in a disjointed, often ungrammatical and unassuming homey style... he has much to say about his life and his thoughts. He was self-taught as a writer and as a painter. But he did know how to paint and how to write. This man was no naïf. In his memoirs he refers to the Greek philosophers, to Goethe, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, Descartes, Karel Capek, Upton Sinclair and Theodore Dreiser, but all this came later in life.

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Frank Koci must have painted more than 3500 pieces; no one knows how many. Subjects represented in Koci's paintings and journals are hats, ladies, authority figures, landscapes, religious figures, rich and poor, men with mustaches and portraits of people wearing glasses.



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The Koci Project

Fifteen years ago, I began to be concerned that with the aging of Koci's collectors, Koci's work would be lost to the general public and a generation of younger art lovers would not be able to see his paintings. I began my quest to document his work by locating and photographing his paintings, having a video made about him utilizing old documentary interviews with updated interviews, and arranging for museum and gallery exhibits.


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