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A groundbreaking exhibition originated by the American Folk Art Museum is on view from May 13 through August 17, 2014, at the Museum (2 Lincoln Square) before it embarks on a six-city US tour through early 2017. Self - Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum posits 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. A fully-illustrated color catalog with essays by the curators, published by the American Folk Art Museum and Marquand Books, accompanies the exhibition. A website about the exhibition can be found at www.selftaughtgenius.org.

“This exhibition serves as a landmark,” commented Anne-Imelda Radice, Ph.D., Executive Director, “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.”

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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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