The Henry Luce Foundation, in conjunction with its 75th anniversary initiative, has awarded the American Folk Art Museum $1.6 million in funding for a national traveling exhibition of masterworks from the Museum’s collection. Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum will feature more than 100 works of art that celebrate the singular power of folk art and art by the self-taught. The exhibition will showcase the Museum’s extraordinary collection—examining “self-taught” as an enduring American art form with changing implications over three centuries. Whether whirligigs or quilts, drawings or paintings, carvings or constructions, the objects reveal highly personal narratives that reflect the challenges and triumphs of an emerging nation and its evolving national identity.
Commented Dr. Michael Gilligan, president of the Foundation: “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.” Said Dr. Anne-Imelda Radice, executive director of the American Folk Art Museum: “We are profoundly honored. The Luce Foundation’s recognition of our unique mission and wonderful collection and programs allows us to share part of our treasures with a national audience in a direct and powerful manner. The Foundation’s support goes beyond the American Folk Art Museum to celebrate great works that have shaped our country’s heritage and creativity. We are excited to highlight works that not only reach back into our early history but also works made by modern artists who discovered their creative selves along diverse, unorthodox, and alternative paths.”
Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum will be on view in New York City from May 13 through August 17, 2014, and is organized by the American Folk Art Museum’s Chief Curator, Stacy C. Hollander, and Dr. Valérie Rousseau, Curator, Art of the Self-Taught and Art Brut. The show will then travel to five venues throughout the country during the next three years; the tour will soon be announced in a joint statement of the American Folk Art Museum and its partners. Accompanying the exhibition will be a fully illustrated catalog, public programs, symposia, digital and online media, and other resources to expand and enhance its accessibility.
Said Ellen Holtzman, the Luce Foundation’s program director for American art: “The grant to the American Folk Art Museum epitomizes the Luce Foundation’s 30-year commitment to raising awareness of the rich scope of American visual art. The national tour is designed to reach maximum audiences across the country, expanding appreciation of the Museum and its signature collection.”
For five decades the American Folk Art Museum has been shaping an understanding of folk art and the work of contemporary self-taught artists through its exhibitions, publications, and educational programs. The Museum’s mission to discover and celebrate these highly personal, individualistic works of art has uniquely endured.
The Henry Luce Foundation was established in 1936 by the late Henry R. Luce, cofounder and editor in chief of Time Inc. The Luce Foundation supports projects in American art, higher education, East Asia, theology, women in science, mathematics and engineering, and public policy and the environment. Through the American Art Program, begun in 1982, the Foundation has distributed over $145 million to some 250 museums, universities, and service organizations in 47 states, the District of Columbia and internationally.
Read about the award in the New York Times.