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"Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum" opens in New York
The Pile of Andrius (#67)

Eugene Von Bruenchenhein (1910–1983), Milwaukee, Wisconsin, December 31, 1954. Oil on corrugated cardboard, 13 x 15 1/2". Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York. Gift of Lewis and Jean Greenblatt, 2000.1.24. Photo by John Parnell, New York.

NEW YORK, NY.- A groundbreaking exhibition originated by the American Folk Art Museum is on view from May 13 through August 17, 2014, at the Museum (2 Lincoln Square) before it embarks on a six-city US tour through early 2017. Self - Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum posits an original premise that considers the changing implications of self-taught in the United States from a deeply entrenched and widespread culture of self-education in the early national period to its usage today to describe artists working outside the art historical canon and often in isolated circumstances. A fully-illustrated color catalog with essays by the curators, published by the American Folk Art Museum and Marquand Books, accompanies the exhibition. A website about the exhibition can be found at

“This exhibition serves as a landmark,” commented Anne-Imelda Radice, Ph.D., Executive Director, “by locating the genesis of a field that has grown and become even more complex than ever before, and by clarifying its scope and substance. Self - Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum provides new insight into the critical role of artists all-too-often overlooked.”

The exhibition and the national tour of Self - Taught Genius: Treasures from the America n Folk Art Museum are made possible by generous funding from the Henry Luce Foundation as part of its 75th anniversary initiative.

Commented Dr. Michael Gilligan, president of the Foundation: “For 75 years, the Henry Luce Foundation has fostered scholarship, innovation, and leadership—also attributes of the American Folk Art Museum. We are proud to sponsor a national tour of their exemplary collection that represents distinctive American creativity.”

Developed and organized by Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs, Chief Curator, and Director of Exhibitions Stacy C. Hollander and Curator of Art of the Self-Taught and Art Brut Valérie Rousseau, Ph.D., the exhibition will highlight the roles of self-taught artists as figures central to the shared history of America whose contributions to the national life and conversation are paramount.

Some 100 works by a diverse group of artists, dating from the mid-18th through the early-21st century, and representing more than 50 years of institutional collecting, are be on view. These include: Girl in Red Dress with Cat and Dog, c. 1830-1835, an oil on canvas by Ammi Phillips (1788-1865); The Encyclopedic Palace of the World, c. 1950s, a towering model designed by Marino Auriti (1891-1980) for a new museum meant to hold all of human discovery in every field, which has most recently been on loan to the 2013 Venice Biennale where it served as the centerpiece of the international fair; Flag Gate, c. 1876, a once-working gate by an unidentified artist to celebrate the nation’s centennial, which was a donation to the Museum in 1962 and its first acquisition; a 6’-wide paneled watercolor, and various bound and unbound volumes of the writings of Henry Darger (1892-1973), whose archive was established at the Museum in 2000; an exquisitely stitched Whig Rose and Swag Border Quilt, c. 1850, made by unidentified slaves on the Morton Plantation in Russellville, Kentucky; the monumental Mother Symbolically Represented/The Kathredal, 1936, an ink rendering on rag paper by Achilles Rizzoli (1896-1981), who loved to play with words, and frequently used anagrams, acronyms, and neologisms in his work; works by Morris Hirschfield (1872-1946); Sister Gertrude Morgan (1900-1980); Horace Pippin (1888-1946); Martín Ramírez (1895-1963); Judith Scott (1943-2005); Mary T. Smith (c. 1904-1995); and other artists from many parts of the country, working in such media as drawing, painting, textiles, bones, wood, and ceramics, and more.

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