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Perspectives: Forming the Figure

August 24, 2010–July 8, 2011

The idea of character is thematically relevant to a deeper exploration of traditional folk art and the work of contemporary self-taught artists, a far-reaching field that pervades a broad spectrum of American culture and reflects many different communities. This exhibition, the second installment of the “Perspectives” series organized by the museum’s education department, examines some of the many facets of figure in works from the permanent collection. From 19th-century miniatures to a larger-than-life 20th-century circus banner, the figures presented in the artworks on view serve as a sampling of the vast diversity of depictions of people in folk art.


In The World
Consuelo “Chelo” González Amézcua (1903–1975)
Del Rio, Texas
Ballpoint pen on paper
28 x 22 in.
American Folk Art Museum, Blanchard-Hill Collection, gift of M. Anne Hill and Edward V. Blanchard Jr., 1998.10.1
Photo by Gavin Ashworth

Liberty Needlework
Lucina Hudson (1787–?)
South Hadley, Massachusetts
Watercolor and silk thread on silk with metallic thread and spangles
18 x 16 in.
American Folk Art Museum purchase with funds from the Jean Lipman Fellows, 1996, 1996.9.1

Girl With Flowered Dress
Morris Hirshfield (1872–1946)
Brooklyn, New York
Oil on canvas
32 x 25 in.
American Folk Art Museum, gift of Donna and Carroll Janis, 2006.3.1
Art © Robert and Gail Rentzer for Estate of Morris Hirshfield/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
Photo by Gavin Ashworth

Father and Daughter of Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
Jacob Maentel (1778–?)
Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
c. 1815–1820
Watercolor, gouache, ink, and pencil on paper
10 3/4 x 8/ 1/2 in. (sight)
Private collection
Photo © 2000 John Bigelow Taylor

Man With Umbrella
Bill Traylor (1852/56–1949)
Montgomery, Alabama
c. 1939–1942
Poster paint on cardboard
15 x 13 in.
American Folk Art Museum, Blanchard-Hill Collection, gift of M. Anne Hill and Edward V. Blanchard Jr., 1998.10.55
Photo by Gavin Ashworth

Master Burnham
Samuel Addison Shute (1803–1836) and Ruth Whittier Shute (1803–1882)
Probably Lowell, Massachusetts
c. 1831–1832
Watercolor, gouache, pencil, and ink on paper
27 1/2 x 19 in.
American Folk Art Museum, gift of Ralph Esmerian, 2013.1.13
Photo © 2000 John Bigelow Taylor


“Perspectives: Forming the Figure” is supported in part by the Leir Charitable Foundations in memory of Henry J. & Erna D. Leir; the Gerard C. Wertkin Exhibition Fund; the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; and with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, celebrating 50 years of building strong, creative communities in New York State’s 62 counties.