Unexpected Partners: Self-Taught Art and Modernism in Interwar America


January 27, 2023    
11:00 am - 5:00 pm


American Folk Art Museum
Virtual, Zoom link to be provided
Free with registration

This program is free and registration is required. Please click here to register. Instructions for joining with a Zoom link and password will be provided by email upon registration confirmation. Closed captioning will be provided in English as well as ASL translation.

For questions or to request accessibility accommodations, please email publicprograms@folkartmuseum.org. Symposium proceedings will be published by the Museum in the Spring of 2023.

Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered features over 40 of the artist’s paintings (more than half of his output) as well as photographic and audio archives that trace the painter’s brief but sensational career in New York. This exhibition reintroduces to scholars, historians, and the contemporary audience a singular artist whose work has been obscured since his death in 1946.

In the symposium “Unexpected Partners: Self-Taught Art and Modernism in Interwar America,” Morris Hirshfield’s remarkable production and contentious reception serve as a springboard for a broader consideration of modernism’s complex interchange with self-taught art in the United States during the mid-twentieth century. Panelists will revisit a vital moment during the interwar period when vanguard and self-taught art were in dialogue through new research into key episodes such as Morris Hirshfield’s embrace by the Surrealists who decamped to New York as fascism rose in Europe or William Edmondson’s experience as the first Black and self-taught artist to be given a solo exhibition at MoMA.

Talks will highlight the important contributions that self-taught artists made to the development of modernism in the United States, redressing these artists’ gradual exclusion from the art-historical canon in the postwar era and fleshing out a more representative narrative of American art.

Speakers include: Bill Anthes, Esther Adler, Susan Davidson, Julia Bryan-Wilson, Lynne Cooke, Jane Kallir, Jennifer Jane Marshall, Richard Meyer, Angela Miller, Rodrigo Moura, Marci Kwon, Valérie Rousseau, Nicole Smythe-Johnson and Brooke Wyatt.

Click here for a full schedule of the program.

Visit this link to read the speakers’ biographies.

“Unexpected Partners: Self-Taught Art and Modernism in Interwar America” is presented in partnership with the Department of Art & Art History at Stanford University, with the support of the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Image credits:

Left: Hermann Landshoff, André Breton, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst [standing behind Morris Hirshfield’s Nude at the Window (Hot Night in July)], and Leonora Carrington (seated) at Peggy Guggenheim’s townhouse, Fall 1942, New York, NY, Digital print (original: gelatin silver print, 60 x 60 in.). © bpk. Digital image: bpk-Bildagentur/Münchner Stadtmuseum/Hermann Landshoff/Art Resource, New York

Right: Morris Hirshfield, Nude at the Window (Hot Night in July), 1941, Oil on canvas with collage, 54 1/4 x 30 3/4 inches. © Carroll Janis, licensed by VAGA, New York, NY