Vanity Fair Culture: Eleven Striking Museum-Quality Paintings By John Mellencamp

By Sarah Schmidt - Vanity Fair

Mellencamp’s Masterpieces
Champion of the heartland, Farm Aid founder, and accomplished Americana musician, John Mellencamp has been covertly pulling double-duty as a visual artist for more than 20 years. But with his first art museum exhibition at Youngstown, Ohio’s Butler Institute of American Art in progress, the spotlight is now shining brightly on 40 of his original oil paintings. Inspired largely by German artists Max Beckmann and Otto Dix, Mellencamp’s work is emotional and progressive, in keeping with his award-winning music. For Mellencamp, who began his painting career by training with the Art Students League in New York in the late 1980s, inspiration is ubiquitous, and his pieces range from the brazenly political to the intimately personal.

View the 11 selected paintings on Vanity

Gates of Hell, 1992, oil on canvas, 58 in. by 46 in
El Paso, 2010, mixed media on canvas, 48 in. by 48 in.
Gun Control, 2013, mixed media on canvas, 53½ in. by 72 in.
Man in the Cage, 2008, mixed media on canvas 72 in. by 56 in.
Self with Green Background, 1993, oil on canvas, 28 in. by 25 in.
Under the Lights, 1991, oil on canvas, 36 in. by 30 in.
Victoria, 1991, oil on canvas, 28 in. by 24 in.
Wild Horse, 2005, paint on canvas, 72 in. by 40 in.
X, 2011, mixed media on canvas, 48 in. by 40 in.
Love, 2005, mixed media on canvas, 30 in. by 24 in.
Puppet, 2013, mixed media on canvas, 48 in. by 42 in.