Gallery 757 - Art in the Folk Tradition, 1800–1900
Part of The American Wing
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Barbara and Martha Fleischman Gallery
The Museum's collection of folk art—represented by many of the works in this gallery—was largely established in 1980 by the bequest of Colonel Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, who, like many collectors in the field, discovered folk art through twentieth-century eyes. The term "folk art" refers to a broad range of artistic approaches that are nevertheless unified by conventions of method, aesthetics, and circumstance. Most folk artists were, in fact, highly trained and multitalented, even though they spent their careers moving from place to place courting local audiences. Almost all favored strong colors, broad paint application, patterned surfaces, and skewed scale and proportion. They developed compositional formulas that allowed them to work quickly, with limited materials and in makeshift studios. With the introduction of photography in 1839, some folk artists rose to the challenge by embracing the new medium—themselves becoming photographers—and some by continuing to compete with it.