The Westmoreland Museum of American Art Concludes National Tour of High Museum’s Gatecrashers: The Rise of the Self-Taught Artist in America
GREENSBURG, Pennsylvania (August 29, 2022) – From October 16, 2022 through February 5, 2023, The Westmoreland Museum of American Art will present Gatecrashers: The Rise of the Self-Taught Artist in America, the first exhibition examining how self-taught artists working between 1927 and 1950 succeeded in the mainstream art world due to evolving ideas about American identity, inclusion, and national character in art. Gatecrashers is organized by the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and curated by Katherine Jentleson, the museum’s Merrie and Dan Boone Curator of Folk and Self-Taught Art.
Featuring 60 works from leading collections across the country, Gatecrashers explores how these artists, all without formal training, “crashed the gates” of major museums in the United States, diversifying the art world across lines of race, ethnicity, class, ability, and gender. The exhibition will prominently feature the work of the most widely celebrated self-taught artists of this era, John Kane, Horace Pippin, and Anna Mary Robertson Moses (Grandma Moses), as well as fifteen lesser-known self-taught artists who were also recognized during this period, including Morris Hirshfield, Josephine Joy, and Lawrence Lebduska.
“The Westmoreland has a long history of presenting folk art and self-taught artists, yet this exhibition shines a new light on this material,” said Chief Curator Jeremiah William McCarthy. “Gatecrashers demonstrates how these self-taught artists were presented in major museums at mid-century as representing a distinctly ‘American’ vanguard—as modern art in the making.”
“We are delighted to bring the national tour of Gatecrashers: The Rise of the Self-Taught Artist in America to our region. This exhibition is a celebration of how these ‘gatecrashers’ redefined the idea of who could or could not be an artist, and we think their stories of creative self-fashioning and determination will inspire visitors. We are also very proud to lend seven works to the exhibition, including paintings by John Kane and Martin B. Leisser,” said Interim Director/CEO Suzanne Wright.
A dynamic schedule of events developed by The Westmoreland will complement the exhibition, including a talk by Maxwell King and Louise Lippincott on the life and art of John Kane; an In Conversation between curators Jentleson and McCarthy; Self-Taught Series, a series of demonstrations and informal seminars featuring local self-taught artists from a variety of disciplines; a community day presented in partnership with Rivers of Steel; and a Vintage Ball inspired by the Gatecrashers-era. More information on these programs and events will be shared in the Fall 2022-Winter 2023 Perspectives newsletter and posted on thewestmoreland.org/events.
The Westmoreland is the closing venue for this traveling exhibition, after presentations at the High Museum of Art and the Brandywine River Museum of Art. The Westmoreland presentation overlaps with Pittsburgh’s John Kane: The Life & Art of an American Workman on view through January 8, 2023 at the Senator John Heinz History Center, as well as American Perspectives: Stories from the American Folk Art Museum Collection at The Frick Pittsburgh on view through October 15, 2022 to January 8, 2023.
Gatecrashers: The Rise of the Self-Taught Artist in America is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Dorothea and Leo Rabkin Foundation. Additional funding for this exhibition’s presentation at The Westmoreland was generously provided by The Heinz Endowments and the Hillman Exhibition Fund of The Westmoreland Museum of American Art.