NEW ORLEANS, LA-Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum, on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art February 26-May 22, 2016, reconsiders the continuum of American self-taught art and artists from the Revolutionary War to contemporary times. Because each art object is not only a product of its creator’s mind, but also of its historical and social context, this collection of 115 works helps tell the story of 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.
The exhibition and the national tour of Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum are made possible by generous funding from the Henry Luce Foundation as part of its 75th anniversary initiative.
“The New Orleans Museum of Art is delighted to be a venue for Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum,” said Susan M. Taylor, The Montine McDaniel Freeman Director of the New Orleans Museum of Art. “With NOMA’s long history of collecting and displaying southern, self-taught art, this distinguished, wide-ranging exhibition from the American Folk Art Museum will be a distinct complement to our collection.”
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, will 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); Thornton Dial (b. 1928) and other artists from many parts of the country, working in such media as drawing, painting, textiles, bones, wood, ceramics, and more.
A fully-illustrated color catalog with essays by the organizing curators Stacy C. Hollander and Valérie Rousseau, both with the American Folk Art Museum, published by the American Folk Art Museum and Marquand Books, will accompany the exhibition, and will be available in the Museum Shop.
Unfiltered Visions: 20th Century Self-Taught American Art at NOMA is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum. NOMA’s exhibition, on view in The Helis Foundation gallery, demonstrates the diversity and individuality of self-taught artists’ work. Today, these artists are receiving the widespread recognition they have long deserved. Their creativity, spontaneous expressivity, and inventive use of materials are expressed through dynamic and unfiltered visions.
Throughout the twentieth century, the raw, instinctive approach of self-taught artists has quietly attracted acclaimed “contemporary” artists, collectors with keen eyes and in more recent decades, insightful museum curators, who bring this material to the public eye. The New Orleans Museum of Art was among the early pioneers, organizing the first solo exhibition of Clementine Hunter’s work in 1955 and collecting work by self-taught artists since the 1970s.
Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum is organized by the American Folk Art Museum, New York. The exhibition and national tour are made possible by generous funding from the Henry Luce Foundation, as part of its 75th anniversary initiative.
Presentation of this exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art is sponsored by the City of New Orleans and the Eugenie and Joseph Jones Family Foundation. Additional support is provided by Herman Herman & Katz, LLC.
About NOMA and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden
The New Orleans Museum of Art, founded in 1910 by Isaac Delgado, houses nearly 40,000 art objects encompassing 5,000 years of world art. Works from the permanent collection, along with continuously changing special exhibitions, are on view in the museum’s 46 galleries Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The adjoining Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden features work by over 60 artists, including several of the 20th century’s master sculptors. The Sculpture Garden is open seven days a week: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The New Orleans Museum of Art and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden are fully accessible to handicapped visitors and wheelchairs are available from the front desk. For more information about NOMA, call (504) 658-4100 or visit www.noma.org. Wednesdays are free admission days for Louisiana residents, courtesy of The Helis Foundation. (May not include special exhibitions.) Teenagers (ages 13-19) receive free admission every day through the end of 2015, courtesy of The Helis Foundation.
For more information about the American Folk Art Museum, please visit www.folkartmuseum.org