Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum
Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum explores the “self-taught” artist as an elastic and enduring phenomenon with powerful and profound implications that have changed over time. More than 100 works of art are on view in this groundbreaking exhibition that highlights the roles of folk and self-taught artists as figures who are central to the shared history of America and whose contributions to the national conversation are paramount. Self-Taught Genius features masterpieces in a variety of forms including textiles and needlework, ceramics, sculptural and carved figures, drawings, paintings, furniture, and much more, dating from the 18th century to the present.
The exhibition considers the shifting implications of a self-taught ideology in the United States, from a widely endorsed movement of self-education to its current usage to describe artists working outside traditional frames of reference and art history. Self-taught art, past and present, blurs boundaries between disciplines, questions the definition of art, and forces us to reconsider our assumptions about what art truly is. These “self-taught geniuses” have been active participants in the shaping of American visual culture, influencing generations of artists, and establishing lively artistic traditions.
Ralph FasanellaSubway Riders, 1950
Oil on canvas
Edward HicksThe Peaceable Kingdom, 1829-31
Oil on canvas, in original painted wood frame
Flag Gate, ca. 1876
Paint on wood with iron and brass
Ammi PhillipsGirl in Red Dress with Cat and Dog, 1830-35
Oil on canvas
Mary T. SmithUntitled, 1976
Paint on metal
Marino AuritiEncyclopedic Palace/Palazzo, ca. 1950s
Wood, plastic, glass, metal, hair combs, and model kit parts
Sheldon PeckAnna Gould Crane and Granddaughter Janette, ca. 1845
Oil on linen
Asa AmesPhrenological Head, ca. 1850
Paint on wood
Bill TraylorUntitled (Figures and Construction with Blue Border), ca. 1941
Poster paint and pencil on cardboard
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Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum is organized by the American Folk Art Museum. The exhibition and national tour are made possible by generous funding from the Henry Luce Foundation, as part of its 75th anniversary initiative.
Local presentation is sponsored by the Kleinheinz Family Foundation for the Arts and Education.