Optician's Trade Sign
E. G. Washburne & Co.
Folk art has flourished in the heart of New York City since the eighteenth century, contrary to popular belief that it was a rural genre that reflected local tastes, traditions, and needs. In fact, many of the objects that have been associated with the heartland were manufactured and used in New York City by artists and artisans who, in the tradition of self-taught artists around the world, learned their skills by joining family businesses, apprenticing to masters, or by teaching themselves the expertise needed to produce those pieces that we now consider among the core expressions of American folk art. Around 100 works of art by self-taught artists tell the story about New York City as the center of America’s financial and commercial world from two perspectives simultaneously: “The Art of Business” portrays the people and places that were part of the city’s thrumming commercial life, and “The Business of Art” highlights the diverse mediums and formats used by the artists, artisans, and manufacturers. The exhibition will draw on the collections of a number of New York City museums, including the American Folk Art Museum, The New-York Historical Society, and historical societies and museums in all five boroughs, as well as private collections.Learn more
Quilts—America’s great art experiment . . . monumental compositions in color, pattern, geometry, and representation made (mostly) by women over more than three centuries. The American Folk Art Museum has been at the forefront of the movement to bring recognition to quilts as a major art form with deep roots in American life and experience. The museum’s collection is especially distinctive for unique, highly individualized expressions in this medium that is both yielding and unforgiving, challenging the maker to test the limits imposed by cutting and piecing bits of fabric The museum is renowned for its in-depth holdings of Amish quilts, whitework textiles, double wedding ring, crazy, appliqué quilts, and more. In 2018, the museum received a gift of twenty-one quilts from Werner and Karen Gundersheimer that introduces new patterns into the collection. Gathered over a period of decades as the couple scoured eastern Pennsylvania, and then the Midwest and Southern United States, the quilts are graphically striking examples that embody what the couple call “wall power.” Packing a tough visual punch, the textiles hold space and defy the deceptive softness of their nature.Learn more
Gifts are present at all of life’s great milestones: births, birthdays, weddings, and all of the little occasions in between. A Piece of Yourself: Gift Giving in Self-Taught Art is dedicated to exploring the interconnection between gift-giving practices in the United States and self-taught art through a selection of works from the museum’s collection. Self-taught art—an inherent expression of its maker’s views—complicates standard gift-giving dynamics by presenting a one-of-a-kind artwork instead of an everyday commodity.Learn more