Decorating the Everyday: Popular Art from the Farnsworth

  • Maker unknown, Figurehead, c.1835-1855, wood and paint (originally polychrome), 46 3/4 x 22 x 19 1/2 ins., gift of David Rubenstein, 1964
December 26, 2012 - September 15, 2013
Crosman Gallery

This exhibition features furniture, paintings, textiles and toys reflecting mainly nineteenth- and early twentieth-century regional life in Maine and New England. These works suggest extraordinary levels of concentration, energy and ingenuity by their makers, fueled by inclinations to document, build and embellish. This art of the common man, or “folk art,” is a provisional terminology representing a broad category of arts. Long before captivating recent audiences, it attracted the notice of early twentieth-century modernists. They perceived in this vernacular form an unselfconscious, intrinsically American expression, and sometimes uncomplicated, direct, abstract design--qualities explored in their own work, and often what we appreciate today.