American Folk Art Museum Logo

17 Apr 2017

Spring 2017

Dear members and friends,

Last month we opened two amazing exhibitions at the museum, Eugen Gabritschevsky: Theater of the Imperceptible and Carlo Zinelli (1916–1974), both curated by Dr. Valérie Rousseau, Curator, Self-Taught Art and Art Brut. These exhibitions present new, original scholarship on these art brut artists. These exhibitions present new, original scholarship on these art brut artists. An exhibition catalog on Gabritschevsky—produced in partnership with the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland, and La maison rouge in Paris—is the first catalog published in English about this artist.

These exhibitions follow on the heels of the enormously successful Securing the Shadow: Posthumous Portraiture in America, curated by Stacy C. Hollander, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs, Chief Curator, and Director of Exhibitions. After parsing through hundreds of visitor surveys, we found that Securing the Shadow attracted a significant increase in viewers in their twenties and thirties, and was seen on site by nearly 60,000 visitors, making it one of the best-attended exhibitions at the museum in recent history. If you missed the exhibition, a beautiful exhibition catalog is available.

We have also been busy with content-rich programs such as the recent daylong symposium “Post Dubuffet: Self-Taught Art in the Twenty-First Century.” This symposium brought seven leading scholars to the museum to present their unique perspectives on the meaning of self-taught art in the twenty-first century.

The museum has recently released two publications: Fables across Time: Khalila and Dimna, written and illustrated by Dr. Sabiha Al Khemir, and The Hidden Art: 20th- & 21st-Century Self-Taught Artists from the Audrey B. Heckler Collection, published in partnership with Skira/Rizzoli.

Fables across Time is a beautifully illustrated children’s book written in English and Arabic and marks a unique moment in our museum’s history to acknowledge a multicultural, multilingual audience. We displayed Dr. Al Khemir’s original artwork featured in the book at our Collections and Education Center in Long Island City.

We held a book launch for The Hidden Art following the “Post Dubuffet” symposium. Audrey B. Heckler and several of the thirty-two contributors to this groundbreaking publication were on hand to sign books.

Our continued partnership with LaGuardia Community College, a program supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, adds great value to our museum. Paid interns are working in educational programming, curatorial studies, and archives and collections. We are very proud of these students who are embracing this special opportunity to learn about folk art and careers in the arts.

The Folk Art Explorers group will be traveling to Santa Fe soon for lectures, visits to artist studios and art environments, and tours of private art collections and museums. Although this trip is sold out, we are planning additional trips to other parts of the US and abroad to learn about and celebrate folk and self-taught art. Please contact Rebecca Kaplan for more information about future trips.

I am pleased to report that the museum has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for planning a major digitization effort for some of our valuable archival materials. We are honored to receive this NEH grant—our first since 1986.

I would also like to recognize our profound loss with the death of Neal Prince, a world-renowned designer, architect, collector, and supporter of the museum. Mr. Prince donated the very first piece of art to the museum collection almost sixty years ago, “Flag Gate,” and continued his interest in and generosity to the museum for the rest of his life. He passed away at age ninety-six. He was a friend to us all and we will miss his humor, knowledge, and humanity.

We all look forward to welcoming you soon to the museum, and please continue to check out our website and social media channels for information about the exhibitions, upcoming public programming, and new initiatives. There is a lot going on. Come join us.

Dr. Anne-Imelda Radice
Executive Director