Daniel Johnston is not a secret anymore. In 2005 director Jeff Feuerzeig released the Sundance award-winning documentary on Johnston’s life “The Devil and Daniel Johnston,” his songs have been covered by renowned artists like Beck, Tom Waits and The Flaming Lips and he has also been featured in the 2006 Whitney Biennial of American Art. It seems that over the past few years the enigma that was Johnston has mutated into a proverbial “cult figure.” However this cliché is an inaccurate description. Where is the line between cult figure and pop culture icon drawn? The common theme found in essays and reviews on Johnston’s work is the examination of his mythology rather than the examination of his work. This type of analysis tends to do more harm than good: the myth swells while the work rusts.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/matthewryansmith/30/