Where is the field of self-taught art heading? This discussion will bring exhibition curator Valérie Rousseau, curator Robert Cozzolino (Minneapolis Institute of Art), and specialist Cara Zimmerman (Christie’s) into conversation about the expansion of the field of self-taught art through the study of archival material and oral history, around the theme of the supernatural, and to wider audiences.
Robert Cozzolino, Patrick and Aimee Butler Curator of Paintings at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia), has been called the “curator of the dispossessed” for championing underrepresented artists and uncommon perspectives on well-known artists. He has collaborated with many contemporary artists, and in 2014 organized the largest American museum exhibition of David Lynch’s visual art. A native of Chicago, he studied at the University of Illinois at Chicago before receiving his MA and PhD (2006) from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In his work on American art he has emphasized regional diversity, integrating artists of Illinois, Wisconsin, California, and other areas into installations, thematic exhibitions, and his scholarship. Before joining Mia he was the senior curator and Evelyn and Will Kaplan Curator of Modern Art at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia, where he oversaw more than 30 exhibitions, including retrospectives of George Tooker, Peter Blume, and Elizabeth Osborne. He acquired more than 2,000 objects for PAFA, mostly gifts, including the Linda Lee Alter Collection of Art by Women and major collections of work by Sue Coe, Ellen Lanyon, and Miriam Schapiro. He is co-editor of and contributor to Art in Chicago: A History from the Fire to Now (University of Chicago Press, 2018) and is curating a major survey of the paranormal in American art from the Salem Witch Trials to U.F.O.s.
Cara Zimmerman joined Christie’s in 2014 as a specialist in folk and outsider art. Since then, she has been involved with and developed multiple major sales, including the unprecedented January 2016 sale of William Edmondson’s Boxer, which set a world auction record for a piece of outsider art. Zimmerman previously worked for the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where she coordinated the critically acclaimed exhibition Great and Mighty Things: Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection, and she served as executive director for the Foundation for Self-Taught Artists in Philadelphia. She has edited and written for catalogs published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Ackland Art Museum at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; San Jose State University; and the University of Delaware University Museums; and is a contributor to Raw Vision magazine. She has lectured at museums and universities throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
Valérie Rousseau is Senior Curator of Self-Taught Art and Art Brut at the American Folk Art Museum. Since 2013, she has curated exhibitions on artists from various countries, including the AAMC Award–winning When the Curtain Never Comes Down on performance art (2015); Once Something Has Lived It Can Never Really Die on Ronald Lockett, Melvin Way, Native American effigies, and Brazilian ex-votos (2016); Art Brut in America: The Incursion of Jean Dubuffet (2015); and shows on Bill Traylor (2013) and William Van Genk (2014). The Director of Société des arts indisciplinés, Montreal, from 2001 to 2007, Rousseau built an archive on art practices emerging outside the art mainstream and organized exhibitions, notably Richard Greaves: Anarchitect (2005–2007). Rousseau holds a PhD in art history and an MA in art theory, both from Université du Québec à Montréal, as well as an MA in anthropology from École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. She is the author of the essays “Visionary Architectures” (The Alternative Guide to the Universe, Hayward Gallery, 2013), “Revealing Art Brut” (Culture & Musées, 2010), and Vestiges de l’indiscipline (Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2007).
Images: Sam Doyle (1906–1985, St. Helena Island, SC); Penn School Drumer 1920; late 1960s–early 1970s; house paint on tin; 46 x 27 1/4 in.; Collection of Audrey B. Heckler. Photography © Visko Hatfield, courtesy of the Foundation to Promote Self Taught Art and Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.
Charlie Willeto (1897–1964, Nageezi, Navajo Reservation, NM); untitled; 1961–1964; paint and cotton on cottonwood and pine; 161/4 x 7 1/4 x 2 3/4 in.; Collection of Audrey B. Heckler. Photography © Visko Hatfield, courtesy of the Foundation to Promote Self Taught Art and Rizzoli International Publications, Inc.