What is American folk art? Who creates it and why? Discover the answers to these questions and more at the Cincinnati Art Museum’s upcoming exhibition.
View an exceptional presentation of American folk art at the Cincinnati Art Museum with A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America, June 10–September 3.
Comprised of more than 100 pieces made between 1800 and 1925, including approximately 60 works from the celebrated collection of Barbara L. Gordon and 40 regional loans, this is the largest representation of historical American folk art in the history of the museum.
A Shared Legacy celebrates art rooted in personal and cultural identity and made by self-taught or minimally trained artists. Created for ordinary people rather than society’s upper tier, folk art was the prevalent art form in the United States for more than a century.
The exhibition showcases the extraordinary imagination and powerful design of American folk artists, some acclaimed and many unknown. Made primarily in New England, the mid-Atlantic and the Midwest, the works in the exhibition illuminate a vast diversity of expression, from paintings, sculpture and furniture to trade signs, samplers and ceramics.
Iconic works by Edward Hicks, Ammi Phillips and other well-known artists are featured in the selection of paintings, which includes vivid still lifes, landscapes and portraits. Exuberantly painted furniture and fraktur (decorated manuscripts) from German American communities are an exhibition highlight.
The objects on loan from collectors in the Cincinnati region celebrate the great enthusiasm for folk art in the area. They range from portraits and carved animals to quilts, furniture and other items designed to enhance one’s everyday surroundings and routine. A number of Ohio-made pieces are featured, as well as an early American rooster weathervane and a pair of Maine portraits by John Brewster, Jr. that are recent donations to the museum’s permanent collection.
A Shared Legacy exemplifies the preservation of personal and cultural identity in America. All of the works in the exhibition reflect the breadth of American creative expression during a period of enormous political, social and cultural change.
Julie Aronson, curator of American Paintings, Sculpture and Drawings at the Cincinnati Art Museum, and Amy Dehan, curator of Decorative Art and Design, lead the exhibition in Cincinnati.
“With its unique combination of the stellar works acquired by Barbara L. Gordon and the equally fine examples from the regional community, the Cincinnati presentation of A Shared Legacy is a tribute to the collectors’ eye for quality, love of history and dedication to preserving the creative expression of everyday Americans,” said Aronson.
“A Shared Legacy builds on the Cincinnati Art Museum’s dedication to preserving and presenting the best examples of folk art for our community,” said Dehan. “These works tell a vibrant, multi-cultural, American story, and given the range of extraordinary objects in this exhibition—many colorful, whimsical, and light-hearted—it holds an appeal for visitors of all ages, tastes and backgrounds.”
This exhibition will be on view in the Western & Southern Galleries (G232 and 233). As a companion to the exhibition, the museum presents American Folk Art Watercolors and Drawings, a display of rarely seen works from the permanent collection, from May 6–September 17, in the Albert E. Heekin and Bertha E. Heekin Gallery (G212). Other intriguing selections from the museum’s expanding folk art collection are on view in the PNC Gallery (G219).
A Shared Legacy: Folk Art in America is drawn from the Barbara L. Gordon Collection and is organized and circulated by Art Services International, Alexandria, Virginia. It made its debut at the American Folk Art Museum in New York City and was recently featured at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and the Nevada Museum of Art. Accompanying the exhibition is a full-color catalog co-published by ASI and the international publishing firm SKIRA/Rizzoli.
The Cincinnati Art Museum’s display of A Shared Legacy is presented by Fund Evaluation Group and LPK.
Special exhibition tickets required for admission. All ticketed exhibitions are free for museum members. Non-members may purchase tickets at cincinnatiartmuseum.org or at the museum. $10 ticket for adults; $5 for children ages 6–17 and college students with ID. Other discounts available.