While working at a McDonald’s in Austin, Texas, in 1984, Daniel Johnston handed customers home-recorded tapes that featured his own cover art. By 1985 he had made a cameo appearance on MTV, and by 1992 Kurt Cobain was championing his music—a genre critics called “new sincerity,” because of the hyper-emotional lyrics and quaint instrumentals. Johnston is best known as a musician, but The Contemporary Austin now highlights his often overlooked visual art. His drawing style, mostly self-taught, was influenced by Marvel comics, and he even made up his own villain: “Vile Corrupt,” a frog with multiple roving eyeballs. Johnston’s album art, videos of live performances, self-taped recordings, and a massive collection of toys are displayed alongside his drawings. —J.D.
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