NEW YORK CITY — Recent acquisitions by the American Folk Art Museum, both traditional folk art and works by the self-taught, will enhance its collection.
Highlights include “The Peaceable Kingdom” by Edward Hicks (1780–1849). The celebrated early American artist is perhaps best known for his masterpieces on this theme. An important version of this work has been donated to the museum as a gift from Carroll and Donna Janis. The painting had been acquired by Mr Janis’s father, Sidney Janis. This oil on canvas, circa 1829–31, measuring 16¾ by 20 inches, is the painting the artist gave to his daughter, Sarah Hicks Parry (1816–1895) of Horsham, Penn., as a wedding gift.
Among the architectural portraits by self-taught artist Achilles Rizzoli (1896–1981) are five he made as birthday greetings for his mother. American Folk Art Museum trustee and collector Audrey Heckler has donated one of these masterpieces to the museum. “Mother Symbolically Represented/The Kathredal,” an ink on rag paper, is dated November 11, 1936, the same year Rizzoli joined an architectural firm as a draftsman (where he remained for the next 40 years). The picture, 27¾ by 475/8 inches, one of the most elaborate of his architectural portraits, symbolically depicts his “beautiful, beautiful Mother” as a grandiose, meticulously rendered Gothic-style cathedral.
Three artworks were purchased at the recent Sotheby’s sale of the collection of Ralph O. Esmerian. These three join a selection of 53 gifts from the same collection, which had become permanent holdings of the museum in 2012. Of special note is an early Nineteenth Century booklet inscribed with the name Daniel Steele (possibly the artist), which the museum became aware of at the sale. The exquisite volume includes 40 pages of drawings and tune notations in ink and watercolor.
The purchase of the Daniel Steele book, along with a plate with an unusual depiction of a running horse in a resist glaze technique using stencils, was made possible with funds provided by Becky and Bob Alexander, Lucy and Mike Danziger, Jane and Gerald Katcher, Donna and Marvin Schwartz, Kristy and Steve Scott, an anonymous donor and earmarked acquisition funds from the museum. Additionally, Lucy and Mike Danziger purchased for the museum a miniature plate with slipware decoration.
An artwork by Thornton Dial (b 1928) has been donated to the museum by the Thornton Dial family. An imposing and ethereal piece by the artist, “Birds Got to Have Somewhere to Roost,” 2012, 61¼ by 48 by 10 inches, is made of wood, carpet scraps, corrugated tin, burlap, nails and enamel on wood. Suggesting a fragment of a “yard show,” it is part of a series of works Dial started in the spring of 2011, two years after he had had a stroke, when a number of natural disasters throughout the world had occurred. The series expresses universal themes through aspects of his daily life, becoming a visual autobiography.
Other new works recently acquired by the museum include dozens of publications and films from the estate of Ralph Fasanella (1914–1997), along with ephemera from the artist’s (and his wife Eva’s) private collection; and a crayon and pencil drawing on pieced paper by Mexican American artist Martín Ramírez (1895–1963). The sepia-hued artwork depicts one of the artist’s signature themes: a jinete (rider on a horse), heavily armed, boxed in a dense landscape of lines and waves, with the white pommel of a saddle in the center of the drawing.
Also, Japanese artist Hiroyuki Doi (b 1946), who was the subject of a recent exhibition in Tokyo, has donated an ink drawing on paper to the museum, titled “Soul (HDY 0313).” Doi considers his idiom of tiny circles a resistance against technology and computerized society, a healing balm offered to the cosmos that assumes dimensions of galaxies, topographies and natural forces.
For additional information, www.folkartmuseum.org or 212-265-1040.