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Vestiges & Verse: Notes from the Newfangled Epic

January 21, 2018–May 27, 2018
At the American Folk Art Museum
Lincoln Square, Manhattan

Vestiges & Verse: Notes from the Newfangled Epic unites more than two hundred and fifty works by twenty-one seminal and recently discovered self-taught artists, who will be introduced for the first time through the examination of the idiosyncratic structures of their lifelong, intricate narratives—notably, their sequential and developing aspects. Rare manuscripts, series of drawings, illustrated notebooks with coded texts, expanding cartography, journals, and multi-part collages will provide an art historical and pluridisciplinary perspective on the mechanisms behind visual storytelling.

The exhibition features the work of:

  • Jean-Daniel Allanche (1940, Tunisia–2015, France)
  • Josep Baqué (1895–1967, Spain)
  • Ariane Bergrichter (1937, Germany–1996, Belgium)
  • Josie Lipton Bryant (Twentieth Century, United States)
  • Aloïse Corbaz (1886–1964, Switzerland)
  • Henry Darger (1892–1973, United States)
  • James Edward Deeds, Jr. (1908–1987, United States)
  • Charles A. A. Dellschau (1830–1923, United States)
  • Jean Fick (b. 1876, France)
  • Jerry Gretzinger (b. 1942, United States)
  • William A. Hall (b. 1943, United States)
  • Carlo Keshishian (b. 1980, United Kingdom)
  • Susan Te Kahurangi King (b. 1951, New Zealand)
  • Paul Laffoley (1935–2015, United States)
  • Malcolm McKesson (1909–1999, United States)
  • Melvin Edward Nelson (1908–1992, United States)
  • Jean Perdrizet (1907–1975, France)
  • Achilles G. Rizzoli (1896–1982, United States)
  • Richard Saholt (1924–2014, United States)
  • Agatha Wojciechowsky (1896, Germany–1986, United States)
  • Adolf Wölfli (1864–1930, Switzerland)

The exhibition is coproduced with the LaM, Lille Métropole Musée d’art moderne, d’art contemporain et d’art brut, Villeneuve d’Ascq, France, where a complementary selection of artists is presented until March 25, 2018. The New York presentation is curated by Valérie Rousseau, PhD, Curator, Self-Taught Art and Art Brut, American Folk Art Museum.

A book is available for purchase at the museum shop.

Installation photos by Stephen Smith.


Exhibition-Related Programs

Drawing with Susan
Invisible Dialogues and Invented Languages
Critical Walk-through: Ernesto Caivano on Art and Storytelling
Families and Folk Art: Storytelling Scrolls
Dialogue + Studio: Zine
Family Day with Purgatory Pie Press: Magic Pictures, Magic Books
Darger Day: Celebrating Realms of the Unreal
Tour of Franklin Furnace Archive
Serial Narratives and Never-ending Stories
Critical Walk-through: Jesse Bransford on Creating Visual Languages
Families and Folk Art: Inventors Lab
Dialogue + Studio: Maps with Jerry Gretzinger
Private Tour of The Sketchbook Project
Susan Te Kahurangi King Fellowship Fellow Research Presentation + Workshop


Images: Henry Darger (1892–1973, United States); detail of 106. AT SUNBEAM CREEK. Are with little girl refugees again in peril from forest fires. but escape this also, but half naked and in burned rags / At Torrington. Are persued by a storm of fire but save themselves by jumping into a stream and swim across as seen in next picture / At Torrington. They reach the river just in the nick of time. Their red color is caused by glare of flames. (double-sided); Chicago, Illinois; c. 1950–1960; watercolor, pencil, carbon tracing, and collage on pieced paper; 19 x 70 1/2 in.; Collection American Folk Art Museum; anonymous gift in recognition of Sam Farber; © Kiyoko Lerner; 2004.1.2A. Photo by James Prinz.

Adolf Wölfli (1864–1930, Switzerland); Geographische Karte der beiden Fürstentümmer Sonoritza und Willi=Wand=West. (series From the Cradle to the Grave, 1908–1912, book four out of nine, page 421); Bern, Switzerland; 1911; graphite and colored pencil on newspaper sheet; 39 1/4 x 28 in.; Adolf Wölfli-Stiftung, Kunstmuseum Bern, Bern; A9243-84.

Susan Te Kahurangi King (1951, New Zealand); untitled (double-sided); Auckland, New Zealand; c. 1960; crayon and colored pencil on paper; 13 1/4 x 8 1/4 in.; courtesy of the artist, Chris Byrne, and the American Folk Art Museum Susan Te Kahurangi King Fellowship; © Susan Te Kahurangi King. Photo by Adam Reich. 

Aloïse Corbaz (1886–1964, Switzerland); Cloisonné de théâtre (Theatrical partition); Gimel, Switzerland; 1950–1951 (end of the third period, 1941–1951); colored pencil and geranium sap on ten sheets of paper sewn together; 39 x 552 3/4 in.; collection of Christine and Jean-David Mermod, Lausanne; © Association Aloïse. Photo by Philip Bernard.

Jean-Daniel Allanche (1940, Tunisia–2015, France); untitled (casino cards “Burkina Faso”) (double-sided); Paris, France; 1993; ballpoint pen on paper; 9 5/8 x 4 1/4 in.; collection of the Popkin Family; © Jean-Daniel Allanche Estate. Photo by Galerie Hervé Perdriolle, Paris.

Josep Baqué (1895–1967, Spain); 1.500. Animals, fieras, monstruos, i homes, primitius, any XV (1,500 Animals, Wild Beasts, Monsters, and Primitive Men, Year XV) (selection from a 454-page manuscript, divided into nine families: animals and wild beasts; primitive men; bats and insects; giant spiders; snakes; snails; octopi, squids, and crustaceans; feathered animals; and various fish); Barcelona, Spain; 1930–1960; ink on paper, various sizes; private collection, Paris, France, courtesy of the Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland; © Eteve Freixa i Baqué. Photo courtesy of Esteve Freixa i Baqué.

Charles A. A. Dellschau (1830, Germany–1923, United States); untitled (book eight, nos. 4347 and 4348, bound); Houston, Texas; April 7, 1919, and April 9, 1919; ink, watercolor, pencil, and collage on paper; 35 x 17 x 1 in.; collection of J. Kevin O’Rourke; courtesy of Stephen Romano Gallery, Brooklyn.

William A. Hall (1943, United States); Pumpkinwall Castle (nine-page composition); Los Angeles, California; 2013; pencil and colored pencil on paper; 14 x 11 in. each page; Collection of KAWS; © William A. Hall. Photo courtesy of Henry Boxer Gallery, Richmond, United Kingdom. 

James Edward Deeds (1908–1987, United States); DEER. BOY (pages 195) (double-sided); Nevada, Missouri; c. 1936–1969; pencil and crayon on ledger paper; 9 1/4 x 8 3/8 in.; collection of Frank Tosto. Photo by Adam Reich, American Folk Art Museum.

Jean Perdrizet (1907–1975, France); La tour logarithmique (The logarithmic tower); Digne-les-Bains, France; March 27, 1972; ink and colored pencil on glued paper sheets; 19 1/4 x 40 1/8 in.; Collection abcd / Bruno Decharme. Photo courtesy of Collection abcd.

Paul Laffoley (1935–2015, United States); The Living Klein Bottle House of Time; Boston, Massachusetts; 1978; oil, acrylic, and vinyl lettering on canvas; 73 1/2 x 73 1/2 in.; collection of Norman and Eve Dolph; © Estate of Paul Laffoley. Photo courtesy of Estate of Paul Laffoley and Kent Fine Art.

Achilles G. Rizzoli (1896–1982, United States); detail of A.C.E.—AMTE’s Celestial Extravag(r)anza (sheet #313 of a 325-page manuscript, unbound); San Francisco, California; 1962–1970; pencil on vellum; 24 3/4 x 36 in.; collection of The Ames Gallery, Berkeley, California; © Bonnie Grossman, The Ames Gallery, Berkeley, California. Photo by Adam Reich, American Folk Art Museum.


This exhibition is organized in collaboration with the LaM, Lille Métropole Musée d’art moderne, d’art contemporain et d’art brut, Villeneuve d’Ascq, France.

Support for this exhibition is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Consulate General of Switzerland in New York, the David Davies and Jack Weeden Fund for Exhibitions, the Ford Foundation, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia.

The Visible Language of Outsider Art
– Edward M. Gómez
American Folk Art Museum’s “Newfangled Epic”
– Perry Brass
In Their Own Worlds
– Sanford Schwartz
Review of "Vestiges & Verse: Notes from the Newfangled Epic"
– Edward M. Gómez