59 Recent Acquisitions Are Featured
The Smithsonian American Art Museum‘s collection of folk and self-taught art represents the powerful vision of America’s untrained and vernacular artists. Represented in the museum’s collection are pieces that draw on tradition-such as quilts-and artworks that reveal a more personal vision. The museum has re-imagined its permanent collection galleries to feature 59 recent acquisitions, an expanded presentation of the beloved “Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millennium General Assembly” by James Hampton, reopened historic windows and new oak floors. The galleries opened to the public today, Friday, Oct. 21.
“The Smithsonian American Art Museum has long recognized folk and self-taught art as integral to the greater story of American art,” said Betsy Broun, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “The museum’s mission to tell the story of America through the art of its people is particularly relevant at a time when museums everywhere are realizing that an expanded narrative of what American art is is necessary for engaging and satisfying contemporary audiences and accurately portraying the scope of creativity in this country.”
Recently acquired works by Consuelo Gonzalez Amezcua, Emery Blagdon, David Butler, Ulysses Davis, Ralph Fasanella, Clementine Hunter, Dan Miller, Joe Minter, Eddy Mumma, J.B. Murray, Achilles Rizzoli, Melvin Way, Charlie Willeto, Clarence and Grace Woolsey, Purvis Young and Albert Zahn join visitor favorites by Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Martín Ramírez and Jon Serl. A striking presence in the galleries is a display of more than 60 sculptures and paintings by Blagdon that represents his constantly changing “Healing Machine.” It is the second-largest installation of his work on public view in the United States.
“The first-floor galleries for folk and self-taught art should have a powerful impact on visitors, conveying not only the museum’s commitment to diverse American narratives and manifesting the tremendous quality, depth and power that art by untrained artists can have, but also affirming its rightful position in a museum of great art,” said Leslie Umberger, the museum’s curator of folk and self-taught art.
Since it acquired Hampton’s “Throne” in 1970, the museum has been recognized internationally as a leader in championing the importance of works by artists who have no formal art training. Subsequent acquisitions, including major collections from Herbert Waide Hemphill Jr., Chuck and Jan Rosenak, and David L. Davies in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as recent selections by Umberger, have resulted in the museum becoming one of the only major American museums to clearly advocate for a populist and uniquely American voice within the context of great art. Continue reading