Amon Carter Museum of American Art presents "Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum"

Release date: 
July 14, 2015

FORT WORTH, Texas — The groundbreaking exhibition Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum will be on view at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art from October 10, 2015, through January 3, 2016. The exhibition highlights the roles of self-taught artists as central figures to the shared history of America whose contributions to the national life and conversation are paramount. Admission is free.

Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum is organized by the American Folk Art Museum. The exhibition and the national tour are made possible by generous funding from the Henry Luce Foundation, as part of its 75th anniversary initiative. The local presentation is sponsored by the Kleinheinz Family Foundation for the Arts and Education.

The exhibition presents 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.

“This exhibition serves as a landmark,” says Anne-Imelda Radice, Ph.D., Executive Director of the American Folk Art Museum, “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.”

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 collecting by the American Folk Art Museum, will be on view. These include:

Girl in Red Dress with Cat and Dog, ca. 1830-1835, an oil on canvas by Ammi Phillips (1788–1865)

The Encyclopedic Palace of the World, ca. 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, ca. 1876, a gate by an unidentified artist used to celebrate the nation’s centennial

• a 6-foot-wide paneled watercolor, and various bound and unbound volumes of the writings of Henry Darger (1892–1973)

• an exquisitely stitched Whig Rose and Swag Border Quilt, ca. 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

“We are thrilled to bring this esteemed collection to North Texas,” said Dr. Andrew J. Walker, Director of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. “This will be the first time the vast arc of American self-taught artists will be seen at the Amon Carter. The exhibition will greatly enhance the broad conversations about American art that are at the heart of our institution.”

Other works on view in the Amon Carter’s galleries dovetail richly with Self-Taught Genius. Drawn from private collections, the exhibition Texas Folk Art provides a fresh look at the lively and spirited works of self-taught artists from the Lone Star State. In addition, the faux-naïve monumental canvas by Esther Pearl Watson (b. 1973), created specifically for display in the museum’s Atrium, is a visionary memory painting reflecting the artist’s childhood in Comanche, Texas.

A fully illustrated color catalogue, published by the American Folk Art Museum and Marquand Books, with essays by curators Stacy C. Hollander, Deputy Director, Chief Curator and Director of Exhibitions at the American Folk Art Museum, and Dr. Valérie Rousseau, Curator, Self-Taught Art and Art Brut at the American Folk Art Museum, will accompany the exhibition and retail in the Museum Store for $28 beginning in October.

After closing at the Amon Carter, the exhibition travels to the New Orleans Museum of Art (February 26–May 22, 2016), Saint Louis Art Museum (June 19–September 11, 2016) and Tampa Museum of Art (October 1, 2016–January 8, 2017).

“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,” says Dr. Michael Gilligan, president of the Foundation.


Thursday, October 22, 5:30–9:30 p.m.
Art in the Dark Community Program
This program is sponsored by Humphrey & Associates, Inc.

Thursday, November 5, 6 p.m.
Redefining Art with Rick Lowe* Lecture
This program is made possible by a generous gift from the late Anne Burnett Tandy.

Saturday, November 7, 10:30 a.m.
Art Discovery: Storytelling* Family Workshop

Thursday, December 3, 6 p.m.
How to Make an American Quilt* Book Club

*Reservations are required. Registration opens the first day of the month prior to each program. Email or call 817.989.5030 to register.