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Herbert Singleton: Inside Out / Outside In

Herbert Singleton: Inside Out / Outside In

NEW ORLEANS, LA.- Ogden Museum of Southern Art in association with Prospect.3 New Orleans presents Herbert Singleton: Inside Out/Outside In, through January 25, 2015, celebrating the impassioned artworks of the late Herbert Singleton (1947-2007). Drawing upon the Ogden Museum’s own collection in addition to loans from the artist’s most important collector Gordon W. Bailey, this selection of works documents Singleton’s contribution to Southern contemporary art practices. Singleton’s brightly painted bas-reliefs defy progressive linear narratives of the past, which often gloss over the magnitude of racial discrimination in the United States. A lifelong resident of Algiers, the Fifteenth Ward of New Orleans, and a carpenter by trade, Singleton made art empowered by his life experience, which included nearly 14 years of incarceration in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Unlike the scenes of spiritual uplift rendered by other self-taught carvers, racial strife and urban crime are abundant in Singleton’s unflinching works. His self-taught style demonstrates a strong use of found materials and a commitment to address the deeply entrenched socio-economic realities of the South. His life and art were not separate endeavors and the artist explicitly indicated that the act of creating helped him to confront the hardships in his life. According to Bailey, “Singleton railed against hypocrisy on both sides of the racial divide.” Herbert Singleton: Inside Out/Outside In was picked one of the top-ten, 2014, exhibitions in the United States by Hyperallergic’s Benjamin Sutton, who commented: “While so much outsider art is captivating for the maker’s ability to convey a rich and complex inner life with rudimentary means, what makes Singleton’s work so powerful is its unsentimental, practically documentary recording of events, from executions at Angola to drug dealers on the streets of New Orleans.” Singleton’s artwork is found in numerous important public and private collections worldwide including the American Folk Art Museum, Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland, New Orleans Museum of Art, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

The mission of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art is to broaden the knowledge, understanding, interpretation, and appreciation of the visual arts and culture of the American South through its events, permanent collections, changing exhibitions, educational programs, publications, and research.

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 925 Camp Street, New Orleans, Louisiana 70130


Major Donation to Metropolitan Museum of Art

Souls Grown Deep

Souls Grown Deep Foundation Donates 57 Works to Metropolitan Museum of Art

(New York, November 24, 2014)—Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, announced today that 57 works by contemporary African American artists from the Southern United States have been donated to the Museum by the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from its William S. Arnett Collection. In addition to paintings, drawings, and mixed media works by acclaimed artists such as Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, and Nellie Mae Rowe, the major gift includes 20 important quilts dating from the 1930s to 2003 that were created by women artists based in the area around Gee’s Bend, Alabama.

“We are an institution dedicated to telling the story of art across all times and cultures, and this extraordinary gift is critical to that commitment,” said Mr. Campbell in making the announcement. “It embodies the profoundly deep and textured expression of the African American experience during a complex time in this country’s history and a landmark moment in the evolution of the Met.”

William S. Arnett, Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, noted, “This collection documents a little-known tradition that began in the Deep South, likely during the earliest days of slavery. It evolved and appeared in the open when the Civil Rights Movement empowered these African American artists to let their previously hidden visual arts come out of the woods and cemeteries and be seen in the front yards and along the roads. Art lovers and cultural historians everywhere owe a great debt to the Metropolitan, where this historic work will now be seen alongside the current and past art of the world’s great civilizations.”

The artists in the Souls Grown Deep collection represent a unique tradition native to the deep American South that has made a transformative contribution to the history of contemporary art. Often without formal training, and facing economic insecurity and racial discrimination, these artists created profound works from both conventional art media and cast-off materials, giving visual power to a highly developed vernacular tradition that enriches an alternative to conventional narratives of modern art. The Souls Grown Deep Foundation is dedicated to documenting, researching, preserving, interpreting, publishing, and exhibiting this tradition.

Sheena Wagstaff, Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum, said, “From Thornton Dial’s magisterial constructions to the emblematic compositions by the Gee’s Bend quilters from the 1930s onwards, this extraordinary group of works contributes immeasurably to the Museum’s representation of works by contemporary American artists and augments on a historic scale its holdings of contemporary art.”

Highlights of the Gift
The gift to the Metropolitan Museum includes 10 works by Thornton Dial, notably Out of the Darkness, the Lord Gave Us Light (2003) and African Athlete (1998); Joe Minter’s Four Hundred Years of Free Labor (2003); Nellie Mae Rowe’s Woman Scolding Her Companion (1981); and the Gee’s Bend quilts, including Lucy T. Pettway’s “Housetop” and “Bricklayer” blocks with bars (ca. 1955).

Thornton Dial (American, born 1928)
The 10 works by Thornton Dial comprise an important group of six large-scale, mixed media compositions and four drawings. Born in rural Alabama to a family of sharecroppers, Dial grew up in a racially divided South. He had no formal training in art and worked until middle age in various industrial jobs. From 1952 to 1980 he was a metalworker in the manufacture of railroad cars for Pullman Standard Company in Bessemer, Alabama, and thereafter worked at a number of trades—house painting, highway construction, commercial fishing, and pipe fitting. These various skill-based occupations inform the objects Dial has made with scavenged materials throughout his life and the art he began to make full time in 1987. Dial’s body of work exhibits astonishing formal variety through powerfully expressive, densely composed assemblages of found materials, often executed on a monumental scale. His range of subjects embraces a broad sweep of history, from human rights to natural disasters and current events.

Out of the Darkness, the Lord Gave Us Light, 2003
Characteristic of Dial’s style at the time, this abstract composition was made from cloth and carpet remnants attached to a canvas mounted on wood and stiffened with Splash Zone, an epoxy-like compound. This industrial medium enabled the artist to create highly textured, relief-like surfaces with deep cavities and angular forms. Once he stretched the fabrics to form an armature across the surface, Dial used spray and enamel paint to compose areas of brilliant color in blue, purple, and green.

African Athlete, 1998
Since early 1990 Dial has made hundreds of drawings, evolving a highly innovative and fluid graphic style coupled with a very personal iconography. The artist made this large pastel and charcoal drawing in honor of the African American track star Florence Griffith Joyner (1959–1998), known as “Flo Jo,” following her untimely death at the age of 38. The figure’s powerfully animated form fills the frame of the sheet as she seems to move toward the viewer. Her agile body twists dramatically in space—her head pivots, her arms are akimbo, and one leg is raised in mid-stride. Dial also elected to call out Joyner’s famously glamorous appearance, with her long black hair and red fingernails, the latter a small but brilliant touch of color amidst an otherwise muted palette.

Joe Minter (American, born 1943), Four Hundred Years of Free Labor, 2003
A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Joe Minter grew up in a large family amidst the repressive discrimination and segregation laws of the South. He labored for years in construction and metalworking, making furniture, exercise equipment, and other utilitarian objects. After his employer closed in 1979, Minter, afflicted with various health issues, became increasingly conscious of the ongoing trenchant racism in American culture and began to make art. Since then he has created an immersive environment outside of his home, consisting of a highly orchestrated universe of assemblage sculptures arranged around themes of African ancestry, black American history, biblical themes, and current events. This so-called yard art consists of found materials such as old machinery, used tools, bottles, pipes, or wire, all built into commemorative shrines.

This freestanding sculpture in the Met’s collection is among the works extracted from the large sculptural environment Minter has established on property around or near his home. Working on his own to create large-scale, physically demanding works of art, Minter assembled this object from the vast store he assembled of scavenged materials. The shovels, hoes, pick axes, plows, and chains represent the brutal implements of labor and serve as emblems of black enslavement.

Nellie Mae Rowe (American, 1900–1982), Woman Scolding Her Companion, 1981
Born in Fayette County, Georgia, at the turn of the 20th century, Nellie Mae Rowe did not begin to make art until she was in her late forties. She initially used her front yard as a studio where she made decorations such as stuffed animals, life-size dolls, and chewing gum sculptures. When neighbors responded negatively to her outdoor installation she turned to drawings. In 1981 Rowe was diagnosed with cancer, and all four works by Rowe included in the gift collection date from that year, the year before her death. This brightly colored drawing features her characteristically fantastic landscape setting, populated by an elaborately garbed female figure and an imaginary cast of hybrid creatures.

Lucy T. Pettway (American, 1921–2004), “Housetop” and “Bricklayer” blocks with bars, c. 1955
The Foundation gift includes a group of 20 Gee’s Bend quilts by a number of distinguished practitioners. These abstract compositions in fabric—ingeniously designed from used clothing such as faded denim or brilliantly colorful cloths—have gradually evolved from their original functional role into dazzling works of art.

Gee’s Bend, a small rural community situated on a bend on the Alabama River, was named for a 19th-century cotton plantation owner, Joseph Gee. The quilting tradition of the area, originated by slave women, is celebrated for its innovative geometric designs. In 1845 Mark Pettway bought the plantation. Many of the Gee’s Bend artists are descendants of his slaves and carry the Pettway name. Lucy Pettway was the fourth of fourteen children and worked in the fields most of her youth, picking cotton, corn, peanuts, sugarcane, peas, and millet. Though she was sporadically educated, she learned to piece and sew at age 12 and made her first quilt the following year. She was subsequently trained by her mother and other skilled quilt makers in Gee’s Bend. This mid-century quilt is based on the “Bricklayer” pattern and on the “Housetop” design—favorites among Gee’s Bend artists—both of which comprise concentric squares of gradually enlarging scale. The work is a testimony to the ways in which the local environment, including its architecture and landscape, played a direct role in Gee’s Bend quilt design: although it is a variation upon a common quilt pattern, the work is also an abstracted map of the Pettway plantation. The quilter used blocks and strips to represent the former slave cabins surrounding the “big house,” the dirt roads and paths, and the river on one side and the fields on the other.

The Met currently has an outstanding collection of approximately 120 American quilts dating from the 18th to the first half of the 20th century. The 20 Gee’s Bend quilts in the gift from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation will supplement the collection in significant ways by representing one of the country’s most important quilt-making traditions.

Related Exhibition
An exhibition devoted to the gift given to the Museum by the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from its William S. Arnett Collection will take place at the Metropolitan Museum in fall 2016. It will be accompanied by a catalogue published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art and distributed by Yale University Press. The exhibition will be curated by Marla Prather, Curator in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Metropolitan Museum.

About the Souls Grown Deep Foundation
Dedicated to the preservation and documentation of African American vernacular art, the Souls Grown Deep Foundation works in coordination with leading museums and scholars to produce groundbreaking exhibitions and publications using its extensive holdings, which include approximately 1,200 artworks by more than 150 artists, as well as extensive field photography. Ranging from large-scale sculptural pieces to works on paper, the art in the collection dates from the early 20th century to the present, a period that includes key moments in American history such as the Jim Crow era, the Civil Rights Movement, and the election of the country’s first African American president. Established in 2010, the Foundation traces its roots to the early 1970s, when William S. Arnett, an art historian, scholar, and patron, began to collect the art of previously unheralded self-taught African American artists across 10 southeastern states, with the goal of building a permanent record of this art-making tradition. Arnett had earlier devoted himself to the art of diverse civilizations-from the ancient Mediterranean to China and Southeast Asia, and Africa. By the mid-1990s Arnett’s efforts resulted in an ambitious project to survey the visual tradition of the African American South: an exhibition and two-volume book, titled Souls Grown Deep: African American Vernacular Art of the South, which was ultimately presented at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta and remains the most in-depth, scholarly examination of this phenomenon. Subsequently Arnett developed a series of related publications, including several books on the quilts of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, before donating many key works to the Foundation.

# # #

November 24, 2014

Metropolitan Museum Contacts:
Elyse Topalian, Alexandra Kozlakowski

Souls Grown Deep Foundation Press Contacts:
Sara Griffin, Kyla McMillan

Outsider Art at Pavia exhibition - freedom or distress?

Outsider Art at Pavia exhibition - freedom or distress?

Outsider Art at Pavia exhibition - freedom or distress?

Art Brut, Raw Art, Outsider Art: all these terms identify a world of symbols, colours and shapes springing from the imagination and hidden depths of unusual artists – artists who are outside the box, unwittingly revolutionary and free.
The University Biomedical Residence
of the Fondazione Collegio Universitario S. Caterina da Siena which stands out as an innovative force in the historical context of Pavia’s finest colleges – providing accommodation for PhD students, interns and Masters’ degree students, mainly foreign, at the University of Pavia – is the venue for the inauguration of another important exhibition, this time devoted to the Outsider Artists of the Haus der Künstler at the Gugging Museum and of the bild.Balance Atelier in Vienna, whose work will be displayed with other collected works from the Seventies to the present day. Walla, Vondal, Fischer, Wikidal and Katarina Savic are just a few of the artists whose works, belonging to the collection of Fabio and Leo Cei, will be on public display for the first time.
The exhibition, a journey in an exceptional expressive and aesthetic dimension, shows without filters the natural mental factors that are at the root of artistic creation, revealing its original essence.

This type of artistic expression was first classified and gained its first recognition thanks to the efforts of Jean Dubuffet, a famous French painter and sculptor of the first half of the twentieth century, who codified and coined the first definition of this art form which broke free from “asphyxiante culture”: Art Brut.
Art Brut “works created from solitude and from pure and authentic creative impulses, in which concerns over competitors, acclaim and social advancement do not get in the way, and which are, for this very reason, more valuable than the works of professionals”.

Art Brut, which English historian Roger Cardinal, in 1972, dubbed Outsider Art, stems from a creative spirit, an impulse that does not follow set patterns and that disregards techniques and materials, giving rise to a personal style and creating an artistic language of its own, totally outside mainstream culture.
This is not just an exhibition but also an opportunity for deep reflection about boundaries of art, the essence of creativity and the ambiguous and complex relationship between the human being and his work. It is an interdisciplinary event that brings together paintings, objects, music and poetry, and explores the relationship between mental distress and artistic expression.

The whole exhibition experience will be complemented by the music of Simona Concaro, who is affected by autism. The music is transcribed by Pierluigi Politi, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pavia and by Hanna Shybayeva, who will perform it on the piano. The event will also feature the poems of Ike Hasbani, who also has autism. Both these artists live at Cascina Rossago (Ponte Nizza in the province of Pavia), a social centre specifically catering for the existential and expressive needs of young people with autism.

Nov 24 – Jan 31
Fondazione Collegio Universitario San Caterina is arranging an exhibition of over 80 works by Gugging artists and from the Bild.Balance Atelier.
Residenza Universitaria Biomedica
27100 Pavia, ITALY

Comme des Garcons installations in New York

Comme des Garcons installations in New York

Comme des Garcons have now created Raw Vision installations at their stores in New York. The Dover Street Market store in Lexington Ave has an interior installation which includes special Raw Vision water bottles while the Chelsea Comme des Garcons at West 22nd Street have set up a large display in the street.

Adolf Wölfli retrospective at Gugging

Adolf Wölfli retrospective at Gugging

until Mar 1, 2015
adolf wölfli. universum.! marks 150 years since the birth of the Swiss artist (1864–1930). Wölfli’s “Bread Art” will be displayed in the Novomatic Salon of the museum: single sheet drawings which he gave as presents or sold to a growing circle of interested doctors, nurses and visitors, or exchanged for drawing tools.
3400 Maria Gugging, Austria

Raw Vision installation at Comme des Garçons

Raw Vision installation at Comme des Garçons

As part of the year long partnership between Comme des Garcons and Raw Vision, designer Rei Kawakubo is creating special Raw Vision installations at different Comme des Garcons stores around the world. The London installation at Dover Street Market is already up and now the Tokyo Aoyama store has just opened their installation. More details can be found in the current Raw Vision magazine http://rawvision.com/articles/rei-kawakubo. The New York Dover Street Market in Lexington Avenue is expected to have an installation up by the end of this week.

Outsider Art Fair in Paris

Outsider Art Fair in Paris

Oct 22 – 26
The Outsider Art Fair returns to Paris with 25 galleries from Europe, the Americas, and Japan. Artists showing include Aloïse, James Castle, Henry Darger, Madge Gill, Martin Ramirez, Bill Traylor and George Widener.
Outsider Art Fair Paris, Hôtel Le A
4, rue d’Artois, 75008 Paris, FRANCE

After the groundbreaking success of its first French edition in 2013, the Outsider Art Fair will return to Paris with a select group of 25 international galleries from Europe, the Americas, and Japan. The fair will take place between October 23 and 26, 2014, again at the elegant boutique hotel, Hotel Le A.

The Outsider Art Fair, now in its 22nd year, is the world’s foremost annual show of outsider art and art brut. Responding to the ever-widening audience for self-taught art within the broader art world, the OAF’s Paris edition is timed to coincide with FIAC, Paris’s high-profile contemporary fair.

This year’s roster of exhibitors includes both specialists in the fields of outsider and folk art and astute contemporary art galleries, together representing a fertile cross-pollination between the worlds of self-taught, vernacular, and mainstream art. Visitors will have a chance to see the extraordinary creations of such iconic outsiders as Aloïse, Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, James Castle, Henry Darger, Madge Gill, Martin Ramirez, Bill Traylor, George Widener and Anna Zemankova, along with works by more recently discovered artists like Felipe Jesus Consalvos, Guo Fengyi, Dan Miller, M’onma, Mehrdad Rashidi, and Marcel Storr. Wide Open Arts, the producer of the Outsider Art Fair, is pleased to welcome back many of last year’s exhibitors, including the esteemed Yukiko Koide Presents from Tokyo, with a selection of Japanese Art Brut; Cavin-Morris Gallery (New York), Fleisher-Ollman Gallery (Philadelphia), Henry Boxer (London), Galerie du Marché (Lausanne) and the celebrated Creative Growth Art Center from Oakland, California, which has nurtured such contemporary talents as Judith Scott, whose solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum will open concurrently with the fair.

Galleries exhibiting at OAF Paris for the first time include Sao Paulo’s Galeria Estação, whose lineup of artists is comprised of several who made their Paris debut at the 2012 Cartier Foundation’s Histoires de Voir exhibition, and Paris’s own La Pop Galerie. Also new to the fair are the contemporary art galleries Air de Paris, installing a solo show by Sarah Pucci (the mother of noted American artist Dorothy Iannone) and New York’s Louis B. James, with a solo presentation of the meticulous and colorful drawings of marching bands by New Orleans artist Bruce Davenport Jr.

Other exhibitors making their OAF Paris debuts are Winter Works on Paper from Brooklyn, which will present an exhibition of vernacular photography and Aymeric Rouillac, whose room will be dedicated to the French creator of visionary environments Chomo (Roger Chomeaux, 1907–1999). A collaborative effort between the highly regarded dealers Jennifer Pinto Safian (New York) and Gloria Cohen (Paris) will offer new works by Argentine, Marcos Bontempo.

Highlights of the fair’s extended programming feature a group exhibition in the hotel lobby organized by Anne et Julien, founders of the quarterly review Hey! and curators of the current exhibition, “Tattooists, Tattooed” at Musée du Quai Branly. Daniel Baumann, curator of 2013’s Carnegie International, will assemble films, recordings, and readings of texts by poets and outsiders, including Christopher Knowles, Robert Walser, and Adolf Wölfli. Halle Saint Pierre, Paris’s premier venue of outsider art and art brut, and the fair’s institutional partner in France, will install its reference library of books, catalogues and reviews on outsider, primitive, and Art Brut on the hotel’s sixth floor. Fairgoers will also have the opportunity to see the new exhibition of Bruno Decharme’s seminal collection abcd/art brut at la maison rouge.

By bringing local organizations dedicated to Art Brut like Halle Saint Pierre, la maison rouge, and the collection abcd into dialogue with international galleries, curators, collectors and scholars, the Outsider Art Fair Paris aspires to further expand the current discourse on the art of self-taught creators, as well as pay homage to the seminal role of France in the history of Art Brut.

World Art and Josep Baqué at Lausanne

World Art and Josep Baqué at Lausanne

until Nov 2, 2014
Art Brut Around the World continues at Collection de l’Art Brut, featuring the work of seven artists: Kashinath Chawan (India), Ezekiel Messou (Benin), Ni Tanjung (Bali), Antonio Roseno de Lima (Brazil), Giovanni Bosco (Sicily), Anarqâq (Far North Arctic) and Gustav Mesmer (Germany). Also at Collection de l’Art Brut until October 26, 2014, some fifty plates with drawings by Spanish artist Josep Baqué are shown.­
(caption: Josep Baqué)
COLLECTION DE L’ART BRUT, 11 av. des Bergières
CH – 1004 Lausanne SWITZERLAND. www.artbrut.ch
Image: josep baqué

Collection abcd in Paris

Collection abcd in Paris

Oct 18 – Jan 18
Bruno Decharme has been a collector of art brut for more than 30 years and the abcd collection holds 3,500 works by 300 artists, spanning from the mid-nineteenth century to recent works. Featured artists will include Adolf Wölfli, Carlo Zinelli, George Widener, Janko Domsic, Edmund Monsiel, Judith Scott and Henry Darger.

10 Bd de la Bastille – 75012 Paris, FRANCE
(caption: Aloise Corbaz)

Started in the 80’s the collection was shown for the first time in 2000 at the Campredon Museum of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue; since then it has continued to travel through Europe, the USA, Asia and has been enriched by a number of works and artists. It is now recognized as the most important private collection of art brut.

In recent years we have witnessed the growing visibility of art brut. There is a number of studies with often ambitious goals, a new generation of researchers but also collectors passionate about the field and that is good. Exhibitions displaying the term “art brut” multiply, yet few of them keep their promises; too often their promoters aware of the hype surrounding the label do not hesitate to associate all kinds of productions that are very distant from it — “singulier”, “hors les normes”, “outsider” etc. — creating confusion and misunderstanding. Surprisingly it is in the places usually exhibiting other art forms — modern or contemporary — that the most inventive shows have taken place, for example Augustin Lesage and Elmar Trenwalder, the Inspired at La maison rouge in Paris in 2008, Dwelling Poetically on this Earth at LaM in 2011, Entrance of the Mediums: Spiritualism and Art from Hugo to Breton at the House of Victor Hugo in 2012-2013, Alternative Guide to the Universe at Hayward Gallery in 2013 and recently the Venice Biennale in 2013, to name a few.

What can we learn from this experience? Essentially that art brut is a mysterious island, a territory that must be approached by a modest and respectful explorer to try to grasp its secrets, identify its specificities and let oneself by carried away by the delights of a utopian quest. abcd has worked on enriching these reflections in a spirit of openness, sharing the dreams and thoughts of those who have taken back roads in the most varied and unexpected art fields. We believe that art brut must be taken out of the ghetto; while these artists have been socially marginalized their creations are at the heart of History and feed the river of knowledge. It is therefore appropriate to show them among other human productions while still taking great care of presenting them for what they are. And above all, constantly fine tune your focus, let your instincts guide you, discover new treasures, let yourself be enchanted by their magic and intoxicated by their thousand scents.

These are the objectives of abcd for the next 15 years ... then we’ll see.

Japan and conference at Lagerhaus

Japan and conference at Lagerhaus

until Nov 9
In Art Brut – Japan – Switzerland, Museum im Lagerhaus continues to explore the dialogue between Japanese and Western European outsider worlds, questioning whether art brut speaks a global language. On display will not only be the “stars” of Japanese art brut, such as Shinichi Sawada, but also new works which have never been shown in Europe before: fine and delicately-cut paper works from Yuki Fujioka, drawings by Yu Fujita, Tsugumi Hatanaka and Makoto Ozu. An international symposium featuring Roger Cardinal and Edward Gomez takes place October 17–18 at Museum im Lagerhaus and the University of Zurich.
MUSEUM IM LAGERHAUS, Davidstrasse 44, CH-9000
(caption:Tsugumi Hatanaka)