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Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered

September 23, 2022–January 29, 2023
Exhibition

Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered will reintroduce a singular self-taught artist of the 1930s and 1940s to contemporary audiences. As the sole venue for this exhibition, AFAM’s presentation is the most comprehensive gathering of Hirshfield’s work ever assembled. Featuring loans from private and public collections, Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered features over 40 of the self-taught artist’s paintings, including iconic works such as Girl with Flowers, Stage Beauties, Parliamentary Buildings, and Inseparable Friends.

The recognition Hirshfield enjoyed from individuals such as Marcel Duchamp and Andre Breton is brought to life in a room dedicated to First Papers of Surrealism. Like Hirshfield, artists including Kay Sage, William Baziotes, and Yves Tanguy were featured in the 1942 exhibition, and their works will be displayed at AFAM alongside Hirshfield’s Girl with Pigeons.

Hirshfield’s career as a tailor maker will be represented by reproductions of the technical drawings that accompanied his patents for shoes, slippers, and “foot appliances.” His slipper designs were variously adorned with pompoms, rosettes, buckles, tassels, or figure eights and speak to the originality and ornamental design that would find full expression in Hirshfield’s later paintings. In recognition of this important facet of Hirshfield’s life, contemporary artist Liz Blahd has fabricated boudoir slippers to the specifications of Hirshfield’s patented designs of the 1920s and 14 will be on view in the galleries.

Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered is curated by Richard Meyer, Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor of Art History at Stanford University. Susan Davidson served as curatorial advisor to the exhibition. Valérie Rousseau, the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM)’s Senior Curator of Self-Taught Art and Art Brut, is the show’s coordinating curator.


Richard Meyer’s book, Master of the Two Left Feet: Morris Hirshfield Reconsidered will be published by MIT Press to coincide with the opening of the show. It includes a catalog of works by Susan Davidson that documents and illustrates Hirshfield’s entire body of painting. The book will be available for sale online and in bookstores everywhere, as well as in the American Folk Art Museum Shop.

 

Artworks

Morris Hirshfield (1872, Poland–1946, United States), The Artist and His Model, 1945.Oil on canva, 44 x 34 in. American Folk Art Museum, New York, gift of David L. Davies, 2002.23.1. ©2022 Robert and Gail Rentzer for Estate of Morris Hirshfield, licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Morris Hirshfield (1872, Poland–1946, United States), Mother Cat with Kittens, 1941, Oil on canvas, 24 x 36 in. American Folk Art Museum, New York, gift of Patricia L. and Maurice C. Thompson Jr. and purchase with funds from the Jean Lipman Fellows, 1998, 1998.5.1 © 2022 Robert and Gail Rentzer for Estate of Morris Hirshfield, licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Morris Hirshfield (1872, Poland–1946, United States), Girl with Pigeons, 1942, Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 1/8 inches, The Museum of Modern Art, 610.1967. © 2022 Robert and Gail Rentzer for Estate of Morris Hirshfield, licensed by VAGA, New York, NY