Grandma Moses: Grandmother to The Nation
January 26 - April 18, 2008
Organized by the Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, New York
Thanks to the efforts of the Kallir family and the Galerie St.-Etienne, New York, Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses has remained in the public eye since her first exhibition in 1938 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. There, at the age of 78, she exhibited three pictures in a private show entitled Contemporary Unknown American Painters. In a period enthralled by Americana, Grandma Moses came to represent a significant “primitive” strain in American artistic expression.
At the same time, Moses was wildly popular: her biography as a farm wife painting at her kitchen table was endlessly repeated. She made public appearances at department stores and cooking contests, and at the Truman White House. Grandma Moses merchandise, such as a line of Hallmark cards, became best sellers.
Grandma Moses: Grandmother to the Nation aims to contextualize Moses’ work so as to account for its immense popularity. When seen against the backdrop of the transition from the Great Depression and World War II to the prosperity and domesticity of the 1950s, her celebrity makes perfect sense.
This exhibition will focus on distinct topics including: Grandma and Regionalism, Women’s Work, Grandma Meets Norman Rockwell, Grandma Fights the Cold War, Grandma Products, and Grandma as Celebrity. The installation includes approximately 40 objects, including 25 paintings. Grandma Moses: Grandmother to the Nation was curated by Lee Kogan, Curator of Special Exhibitions and Public Programs at the American Folk Art Museum and guest curator Karal Ann Marling, a professor of Art History and American Studies at the University of Minnesota.