Folk Art

folk art, the art works of a culturally homogeneous people produced by artists without formal training. The forms of such works are generally developed into a tradition that is either cut off from or tenuously connected to the contemporary cultural mainstream. Folk art often involves craft processes, e.g., in America, quilting and sculpture of ships' figureheads, cigar-store figures, and carousel animals. Paintings in the tradition of primitivism also reflect the folk idiom. Folk art is generally nationalistic in character and expresses the values and aspirations of a culturally united group. Much folk art possesses a rough-hewn quality frequently admired and imitated by sophisticated artists. In works of the American regionalist school of the 20th cent., folk and mainstream traditions merged to form a hybrid modern expression. Of several museums devoted to the collection and exhibition of folk art, the best known is probably the American Folk Art Museum in New York City.

See H. Cahill, American Folk Art (1932, repr. 1970); A. Earnest, Folk Art in America (1984); H. T. Bossert, Folk Art of Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas (1990).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Folk Art as Communal Culture and Art Proper
Delacruz, Elizabeth Manley.
Art Education, Vol. 52, No. 4, July 1999
Critical Issues in American Art: A Book of Readings
Mary Ann Calo.
Westview Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "American Folk Art: Questions and Quandaries"
Encyclopedia of American Folk Art
Gerard C.Wertkin; Lee Kogan.
Routledge, 2004
Ceremony and Ritual: Folk Art of Latin America
Oettinger, Marion, Jr.
USA TODAY, Vol. 121, No. 2574, March 1993
The Politics and Ecology of Indigenous Folk Art in Mexico
Carruthers, David V.
Human Organization, Vol. 60, No. 4, Winter 2001
Selling Tradition: Appalachia and the Construction of An American Folk, 1930-1940
Jane S. Becker.
University of North Carolina Press, 1998
Pennsylvania Dutch: Folk Spirituality
Richard E. Wentz.
Paulist Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. V "Images in Arts and Crafts"
The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture
Carol Crown; Cheryl Rivers.
University of North Carolina Press, vol.23, 2013
Librarian’s tip: This volume is about folk art in the southern U.S.
Passionate Visions of the American South: Self-Taught Artists from 1940 to the Present
Alice Rae Yelen.
University Press of Mississsippi, 1993
Librarian’s tip: "Folk Art and the American South" begins on p. 11, "The Art of the Self-Taught/The Art of Our Time" begins on p. 21, and "Artists, Folk and Trained: An African-American Perspective" begins on p. 29
The Folk Arts of Japan
Hugo Munsterberg.
C.E. Tuttle Co., 1958
The Temptation: Edgar Tolson and the Genesis of Twentieth-Century Folk Art
Julia S. Ardery.
University of North Carolina Press, 1998
Folk Art and Outsider Art: Acknowledging Social Justice Issues in Art Education
Muri, Simone Alter.
Art Education, Vol. 52, No. 4, July 1999
Visual Argument in Intercultural Contexts: Perspectives on Folk/traditional Art
Roberts, Kathleen Glenister.
Argumentation and Advocacy, Vol. 43, No. 3-4, Winter-Spring 2007
Preaching as Local Theology and Folk Art
Leonora Tubbs Tisdale.
Fortress Press, 1997
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