Passionate Visions of the American South: Self-Taught Artists from 1940 to the Present

Passionate Visions of the American South: Self-Taught Artists from 1940 to the Present

Passionate Visions of the American South: Self-Taught Artists from 1940 to the Present

Passionate Visions of the American South: Self-Taught Artists from 1940 to the Present

Excerpt

It is fitting that the investigation of this personal art form was ignited by a personal quest. Passionate Visions of the American South: Self-Taught Artists from 1940 to the Present arose from my interest in and exploration of the creative expressions of contemporary self-taught American artists. Pursuing familiarity and an understanding of the work of these artists, in 1988 I began traveling, with my husband, Kurt A. Gitter, throughout the South and the nation, meeting artists in their own environments and seeking their works in private and public collections as well as in an increasing number of art galleries. We became entranced not only by the artworks but by the artists we met, and determined to undertake a comprehensive exhibition of their remarkable works.

While the Northeast has long been considered the cradle of nineteenth- and twentieth-century folk art, self-taught artists have clearly flourished in the southern United States during the past halfcentury. Through my travels, and a survey of prior exhibitions and publications, it became clear that the work of southern contemporary self-taught artists had emerged as a dominant force in the American folk art scene. This was confirmed by the disproportionately large number of southern self-taught artists represented in prior exhibitions and publications. For example, of twenty artists featured in Black Folk Art in America, 1930-1980, organized in 1982 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, nineteen were southern. Approximately 40 percent of the artists recorded in the . . .

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