Web Analytics

Current News

until June 30, 2017

"Andes/Amazon: Two Worlds in Peruvian Folk Art" looks at two distinct contemporary folk arts in two regions of Peru: the portable retablo shrines, originally from highland Ayacucho and the patterned textiles and ceramics of the Shipibo/Conibo peoples of the Amazon basin. Both are arts in transition. From deep traditional roots they are adapting to new materials and influences, and being both changed and enriched in the process.

The traditional Peruvian retablo is a portable shrine or nicho that holds figures sculpted of pasta (a mixture of plaster and potato) or maguey cactus wood. The making of retablos is a folk art whose roots go back to the sixteenth century in the Andes (and even to the Greeks and Romans before that).  While the art’s origins are religious, the contemporary Peruvian retablos exhibited at Indigo Arts range from the sacred to the profane. Claudio Jimenez Quispé is the acknowledged master of the Peruvian retablo. He and his family are heirs to a multi-generation artistic tradition in the highland region of Ayacucho. Most of the family moved to Lima during the brutal civil war of the 1980s and early 1990s, which pitted a violent revolutionary group, the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) against equally ruthless government forces. The peasants caught in the middle suffered the deaths or disappearances of some 70,000 people in this period. The effect on the retablo art form was profound. New narratives of social strife and civil war entered the artists’ repertoire. Many contemporary retablos reflect an exposure to the urban world of Lima and beyond, not to mention a response to a world-wide market for folk art. Some of the recent work shows strong influences of Mexican folk art, including scenes of death and the underworld that celebrate the Dias de los Muertos (Days of the Dead) holidays.

The Shipibo-Conibo are an indigenous people (currently numbering only about 20,000) who live along the Ucayali river in the Amazon basin east of the Andes. Though an increasing portion of the Shipibo population have been urbanized in settlements such as Pucallpa, their traditions remain strong, as expressed in their shamanistic religion and in their visionary arts – notably in the patterns that the Shipibo women paint on their pottery, clothing, textiles and their bodies. The ethnologist Angelika Gebhart-Sayer terms their art “visual music”.

The Shipibo are known for labyrinthine geometric designs that reflect their culture and their cosmology. The main elements of the designs are the square, the rhombus, the octagon and the cross, which  “represents the southern Cross constellation which dominates the night sky and divides the cosmos into four quadrants…”* Other symbols featured in the designs are the Cosmic Serpent, the Anaconda and various plant forms, notably the caapi vine used in the preparation of the sacramental drug Ayahuasca. There is  an intriguing tie between the visual and aural in Shipibo art: “the Shipibo can listen to a song or chant by looking at the designs, and inversely paint a pattern by listening to a song…”*
The designs are traditionally drawn with natural huito berry pigments on hand-woven cotton fabrics that are worn as wrap-around skirts. The fabric is either natural or dyed with a red-brown dye made from mahogany bark. Today most of the fabric is machine-woven, purchased from traders, and increasingly the hand-drawn designs are supplemented with patterns embroidered with bright-colored commercial yarns. The results can be stunning. The truly psychedelic color combinations are consistent with ayahuasca visions. More often than not the designs are asymmetrical within a border or frame – like a landscape viewed through an airplane window:  “Although in our cultural paradigm we perceive that the geometric patterns are bound within the border of the textile or ceramic vessel, to the Shipibo the patterns extend far beyond these borders and permeate the entire world.”*

* Howard G. Charing

Text reproduced from indigoarts.com

March 23 – May 7, 2017

The Visionary Art of Eric Jiani features works by the self-taught, fantasy artist.

Much of the imagery and inspiration that can be seen in his paintings are memories of his time living close to the Amazon rainforest, in Brazil, where he grew up.

His work can be found in many private and public collections in Europe, South America and the United States.

“Ever since I was a child, I have always liked inventing my own imaginary world and then expressing these worlds through models, maps or drawings. It is from this basis that my art has developed, going through different phases. I now feel I am moving ever closer to finding my place in the real world.”

At The Stables Gallery, Orleans House Gallery, Riverside, Twickenham, TW1 3DJ, UK




April 3, 2017

"​Post-Dubuffet: Self-Taught Art in the Twenty-First Century"

This event has sold-out. If you would like to be added to the waiting list please email publicprograms@folkartmuseum.org with your name and number of tickets desired.

In a world exponentially altered by technology and its far-reaching effects on community structures, social relationships, and educational systems, is self-taught art being radically revised in the twenty-first century? Who are the art brut artists of tomorrow?

Curators, scholars, and artist come together in this symposium to examine the current state of the field. Speakers will include Maxwell L. Anderson, Edward M. Gómez, Massimiliano Gioni, Jane Kallir, Randall Morris, Barbara Safarova, George Widener, and Valérie Rousseau, symposium chair and curator at the American Folk Art Museum.

The symposium will be immediately followed by a public reception and book launch for The Hidden Art: 20th- & 21st-Century Self-Taught Artists from the Audrey B. Heckler Collection, written by Valérie Rousseau (ed.), Jane Kallir, Anne-Imelda Radice, and 29 additional authors (New York: Skira Rizzoli/American Folk Art Museum, 2017). Join us as many of the contributors come together to celebrate this important publication.

Members can purchase a copy of the book and admission to the symposium for the discounted price of $50 ($60 for non-members).

Valerie Rousseau, curator, self-taught art and art brut, American Folk Art Museum

Valérie Rousseau, PhD, is curator of self-taught art and art brut at the American Folk Art Museum. Since 2013, she has curated exhibitions on artists from various countries, including the AAMC Award–winning When the Curtain Never Comes Down on performance art (2015); Once Something Has Lived It Can Never Really Die on Ronald Lockett, Melvin Way, Native American effigies, and Brazilian ex-votos (2016); Art Brut in America: The Incursion of Jean Dubuffet(2015); and shows on Bill Traylor (2013) and William Van Genk (2014). The director of Société des arts indisciplinés, Montreal, from 2001 to 2007, Rousseau built an archive on art practices emerging outside the art mainstream and organized exhibitions, notably Richard Greaves: Anarchitect (2005–07). Rousseau holds a PhD in art history and an MA in art theory, both from Université du Québec à Montréal, as well as an MA in anthropology from École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. She is the author of “Visionary Architectures” (The Alternative Guide to the Universe, Hayward Gallery, 2013), “Revealing Art Brut” (Culture & Musées, 2010), and Vestiges de l’indiscipline (Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2007).

Edward M. Gómez, art critic and art historian

Edward M. Gómez is an art critic, art historian, graphic designer, and author. The senior editor of the outsider art magazine Raw Vision and New York correspondent of Art & Antiques, he is also a member of the advisory council of the Collection de l’Art Brut, the world’s first museum dedicated to the art of visionary, self-taught artists, in Lausanne, Switzerland, which was founded by Jean Dubuffet. Edward has written for the New York TimesArt + AuctionARTnewsArt in AmericaMetropolisHyperallergic, the Brooklyn Rail, the Japan TimesReforma, and other outlets. He is the author or coauthor of numerous publications, including, among others, the New Design series (Rockport), Genqui Numata (Franklin Furnace Archive), Dictionnaire de la civilisation japonaise (Hazan Éditions), Yes: Yoko Ono (Abrams), The Art of Adolf Wölfli: St. Adolf-Giant-Creation (American Folk Art Museum/Princeton University Press), Hans Krüsi (Iconofolio/Outsiders), Amer Kobaslija (George Adams Gallery), and As Things Appear, a collection of stories (Ballena Studio). Among other honors, he has received Fulbright, Asian Cultural Council, and Pro Helvetia research awards. In collaboration with Chris Shields, Edward has made the new film Valton Tyler: Flesh is Fiction, which examines the life and work of the Texas-based, self-taught artist who is known for his visionary oil-on-canvas paintings of otherworldly landscapes; it will be released later this year.

Barbara Safarova, president, abcd foundation

A Czech film producer and essayist with a PhD in aesthetics, Barbara Safarova has been the president of the abcd foundation since 2001. In 2010 she became a program director at the Collège international de philosophie in Paris. In her essays she explores artistic productions in the field of art brut from multiple points of view—aesthetics, art history, literary theory, psychoanalysis—including their status within the contemporary art field. She is currently preparing the exhibition La Folie en Tête featuring a selection of works from the early twentieth-century European psychiatric collections at La maison de Victor Hugo in Paris (November 17, 2017 – March 18, 2018).

Randall Morris, independent scholar and co-owner, Cavin-Morris Gallery, New York

Randall Morris is an independent scholar, curator, and writer. He is co-owner with his wife, Shari Cavin, of Cavin-Morris Gallery and is currently researching the connections between the spiritual arts of the African American diaspora, primarily the United States Haiti, and Jamaica. 

Maxwell Anderson, president, Souls Grown Deep Foundation

Maxwell Anderson is president of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to researching, documenting, preserving, and exhibiting the work of African American artists of the American South. He concurrently serves as executive director of the Geneva-based New Cities Foundation, which he joined in 2015. Throughout almost thirty years as an art museum director, he sought to address challenges facing the cultural sector, from operational efficiency to programmatic relevance, transparent business practices, community engagement, cultural property ownership disputes, and the effect of digital platforms on communications. He directed a total of five art museums in Atlanta, Toronto, New York, Indianapolis, and Dallas. He holds a PhD in art history from Harvard University, and serves on the executive board of the National Committee for the History of Art.

Massimiliano Gioni, artistic director, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York

Massimiliano Gioni is the artistic director of the New Museum in New York and the director of the Trussardi Foundation in Milan. He has curated numerous exhibitions internationally, among which include the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013, the eighth Gwangju Biennale in 2010, the fourth Berlin Biennale in 2006, and Manifesta 5 in 2004.

Jane Kallir, curator and codirector, Galerie St. Etienne, New York

Jane Kallir, codirector of New York’s Galerie St. Etienne, is an expert on early twentieth-century self-taught artists. The gallery represents the estates of Grandma Moses and John Kane, and Kallir has written widely about both artists. Her professional activities also extend to more recent “outsiders,” such as Henry Darger, and to European art brut. Among Kallir’s many books are The Folk Art Tradition: Naive Painting in Europe and the United States and Grandma Moses: The Artist Behind the Myth.

George Widener, artist

A self-taught artist and calendar savant, Widener creates mixed-media works on paper that give aesthetic, visible form to complex calculations based on dates and historical events—the sinking of the Titanic being one of his favorites. The artist often uses found paper or a support composed of layers of tea-stained paper napkins. His drawings feature simple palettes, sophisticated patterning, and bold compositions of dates and imagery that transcend centuries of time and the history of art.

Widener’s work has been extensively exhibited worldwide. The artist was part of the exhibition World Transformers: The Art of the Outsiders, at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt (2010) and Exhibition 1 at the Museum of Everything in London (2009). Additionally, fourteen of Widener’s works were in the exhibition Hiding Places: Memory in the Arts at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin (2011). Widener was also included in the exhibition The Alternative Guide to the Universe, curated by Ralph Rugoff at the Hayward Gallery in London (2013). Widener’s work is in many international private collections and museum collections, including the American Folk Art Museum in New York, collection abcd in Paris, the Museum of Everything in London, the Kroller-Muller Museum in the Netherlands, and the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland. He is represented by Ricco/Maresca Gallery, New York.


Text reproduced from http://folkartmuseum.org

until April 30, 2017

For more than 300 years, New York has played a central role in the development of modern tattooing, from its origins in Native American body art to the introduction of the craft by sailors in colonial New York, from the development of a New York style to the three-decade tattoo ban instituted in 1961 and the subsequent underground tattoo culture. This diverse history is explored in Tattooed New York, an exciting exhibition where history and pop culture converge to tell the complex story of a fascinating art form in America’s cultural nucleus.

Among the 250+ elements on view are the New-York Historical Society’s set of 1710 Four Indian Kings prints and one of the earliest recordings (1706) in Western accounts of a pictograph done by a Seneca warrior representing his tattoos and personal signature. Highlights of the exhibition include Thomas Edison’s electric pen and early 20th-century tattoo machinery; dramatic sideshow banners and cabinet cards; a large selection of designs by the Bowery pioneers of modern tattooing, including Sam O'Reilly, Lew Alberts, Bob Wicks, Ed Smith, and Bill Jones; rare photography documenting the tattoo ban years and artwork by mainstream visual artists who tattooed during the ban; and works by some of the finest New York tattoo artists of today. Organized by the New-York Historical Society, this exhibition is curated by Assistant Curator of Exhibitions, Cristian Petru Panaite.

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West, at Richard Gilder Way (77th Street), New York, NY 10024




until May 28

In 1998, Dr. Kurt Gitter and Alice Rae Yelen made a gift of more than 100 paintings, sculptures and mixed media works of art to the Louisiana State Museum, which would alter the collecting orientation of the Museum and establish a core of contemporary Southern regional art. Much of the collection was on display in Madame John’s Legacy, part of Louisiana State Museum, from 1999 to 2005, when the effects of Hurrican Katrina required it to be removed. Now, after a hiatus of 10 years, the Museum presents Soul of the South: Selections from the Gitter-Yelen Collection, an exhibition at the Old U.S. Mint of more than 60 two- and three-dimensional works of art from the Collection. The works are created by 34 self-taught artists, including Roy Ferdinand, Clementine Junter, Sister Gertrude Morgan and Howard Finster.

The Old Mint, 400 Esplanade Ave., New Orleans, 70116