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A 28 inch by 50 inch folk art rendering by the renowned self-taught artist Sam Doyle (1906-1985), titled St. Helena’s First Blak (sic) Midwife Trane (sic) By Dr. White, soared to $204,000 – a new world auction record for the artist – at Slotin Folk Art Auction’s Delta Blues to Visual Blues Auction, held April 26th and 27th at the Historic Buford Hall in Buford.

The painting, created from house paint on found roofing tin, was in excellent condition and depicted Mr. Doyle’s grandmother, a midwife, holding a newborn infant. It was the top lot of the April 26 session, dedicated to Visual Blues (folk art, typically from the Deep South). The April 27 session was themed Delta Blues and featured photographs, concert posters, records and more.

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The Milwaukee Art Museum is currently hosting ‘Uncommon Folk: Traditions in American Art,’ a comprehensive exhibition that celebrates the power, beauty, whimsy and wonder of American folk art. The show presents nearly 600 works by folk and self-taught artists who created art that was influenced by their communities and cultural traditions, rather than established art movements.

‘Uncommon Folk’ includes American paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, textiles, furniture, and decorative arts by folk art luminaries such as Grandma Moses, Howard Finster and Sister Gertrude Morgan. All of the works on view belong to the Milwaukee Art Museum’s collection. The institution began collecting the work of folk and self-taught artists in the early 1950s after receiving two paintings by the Wisconsin-based artist, Anna Louisa Miller. During the 1960s and 1970s, when very few American museums were acquiring folk art, the Milwaukee Art Museum continued to acquire non-academic art through purchases and generous bequests.

Daniel Keegan, the director of the Milwaukee Art Museum, said, “The exhibition highlights the breadth and depth of the Museum’s world-class collection of American folk and self-taught art, from paintings and photographs to walking sticks and quilts. This eclectic grouping of American folk and self-taught art is a demonstration of the Museum’s long history of collecting works by untrained creators.”

‘Uncommon Folk: Traditions in American Art’ will be on view at the Milwaukee Art Museum through May 4, 2014. 

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Great and Mighty Things: Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection presents over 200 objects from one of the country’s most remarkable collections of works by American self-taught artists. On view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art through June 9, 2013, Great and Mighty Things includes drawings, paintings, sculptures, and other objects by 27 artists who created their oeuvres outside of the mainstream modern and contemporary art worlds.

Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz, who have spent over 30 years assembling their collection, will donate the works in the exhibition to the museum. The exhibition and gift include works by prominent outsider artists such as Martín Ramírez (1895-1963), Howard Finster (1916-2001), Purvis Young (1943-2010), and Bill Traylor (1854-1949) and spans from the 1930s to 2010. The Bonovitz’s generous donation will greatly enhance the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s collection as well as help to establish the institution as one of the primary centers for the study of American outsider art.

Outsider Art, which is known for its raw and out-of-the-ordinary beauty, has become a global phenomenon in the 20th and 21st centuries. Once considered the art of the mentally insane, Outsider Art now holds a prominent place next to modern and contemporary art while maintaining its individual identity.

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