This exhibition closed November 2015.
With the opening of the exhibitions American Primitive Painting in 1930 and American Folk Sculpture in 1931, the Newark Museum ushered in the national discussion of exactly what made art “folk.” Since that time, entire museums have been devoted to the display and definition of this aspect of America’s artistic heritage.
The painting and sculpture on view in this gallery are all recent acquisitions for the Museum’s celebrated holdings in American art. They range from the mid-19th century to the late 20th century.
Some of the terms commonly used today for works such as those seen here are folk art, outsider art, self-taught art, or even visionary art. None of these terms, however, accurately defines what this diverse body of work expresses; nor do they explain the appeal that painting and sculpture such as this can offer to the museum visitor.
Some of these works were made by untrained (self-taught) artists; some of them were produced by people who lived outside the mainstream of society. Still others could be described as having been created by someone who is “visionary.”
In the end, each work in this gallery can be appreciated for some aspect of its form, color, technique, content or history. Which simply makes them art.