Director's Gallery, ground floor
The paintings in this exhibition illustrate the diverse practice of folk artists working in the northeastern United States during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In most cases, little is recorded about the artists themselves and their works alone document their creative lives. The selection on view demonstrates the array of individual styles inspired by different creative environments outside the "academic" art world, from the professional painter trained in a commercial workshop to the self-taught artist or amateur. Generally intended for display in the home, these compositions show the delight of the emerging middle class in commissioning and owning art that depicted themselves and their surroundings. The depth of the Philadelphia Museum of Art's collection of American folk painting is largely the legacy of Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch, who were pioneering collectors in this field beginning in the 1930s. The Garbischs' commitment to folk art led them to assemble a collection of several thousand works, later offered by gift and bequest to museums around the country, where they remain a foundation for the study of folk art in the United States.
Mark Mitchell • Assistant Curator and Manager, Center for American Art