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Folk Art - A Stan Klos Website

Folk Art
By Neal McLaughlin

Art movements are usually associated with a specific school or group of academic artists who, involved in the society, will lend their expertise and technical training in in hopes of promoting their current faction into the annals of art history.

Many of these campaigns were started centuries ago and were connected by some thread to a preceding art movement. The artisans of these original camps brought with them various degrees of formal art training; some even had the opportunity for additional training by apprenticing with a current master.

This seemed to be the desired or required chain of protocol for all of the artists of the classical or traditional movements who painted or sculpted for profit and recognition. Most of these camps took place with in larger cities where many peers and colleagues would establish colonies, studios and workshops with concentration on public exhibitions and sales.

When an artist did decide to break away from an active, established movement it was usually done with the ambition of establishing a newer, more modern form of self-expression that would hopefully become the next recognized art movement.

As these artisans diligently worked on mastering their chosen medium, there were many other individuals living outside the main cities in rural areas that due to social, financial or personal position, were unable or unwilling to partake in the strict stipulation imposed by the costly academic training.

These people often referred to as Naive Artists, Outsiders or Naifs were actually to be more closely related to the craftsman than professional artisans. Folk Artists did not usually subscribe to any particular movement but instead chose to practice the styles and techniques that had been passed down from one generation to the next and varied depending on their particular regions.

Folk Artists had very little if any, formal art training and opted to approach their subject matter in a simple, non-scientific composition and perspective that is usually a literal interpretation of their subject done in a flat, non-perspective style and entails the use of bright, energetic colors.

The origin of folk art can be traced back to the late 1700's and early 1800's when Rufus Hathaway (1767-1825) would travel the countryside offering his skills as a portrait painter and furniture decorator. However, it was not until after World War I that the true appreciation of American folk art began.

Folk Art can actually be considered an umbrella term as it can define a diversity of mediums and material used to express the artist's view. One such category encompasses any medium that can be applied to canvas, paper, cardboard or any other paper by- products. This would include mediums such as oils, tempra, watercolors, pencils and pastels.

Folk Sculpture, on the other hand defines any work actually created through the use of manual construction such as carved headstones, painted and carved signs, weather vanes and ships figureheads as well as other hand-made artifacts such as quilts. Regardless of the chosen mediums and the techniques the one common bond among all of the folk artists was that all works are to be created through a natural and simplistic technique.

For many years, folk artists were thought to be nomadic and untrained. In the earlier years of the Folk Artists many of these people were either imprisoned or institutionalized for their emotional challenges and had no formal art training what- so - ever and were not producing art for profit, hence, they were not considered to be among the true artists.

Of course, in today's politically correct America, and the fact that people are no longer truly isolated from society, many of the negative sounding terms have been abandoned. With the exception of the second group that include such artists as Howard Finster (1916- 2003) and Thornton Dial (1928-) who are noted for their use of a raw, almost childlike expression when portraying their highly individual points of view and social standings.

Considered somewhat eccentric, these self-taught artists and sculptors are considered "outsiders" or "isolates" only because their works are created outside the traditional techniques that are generally associated with folk art, but none-the-less, have a positive impact on today's art.

The first and perhaps the most widely accepted category of folk art is that of memory painting. These portrayals were done by the older, self-taught artists such Grandma Moses (1860-1961) and Mattie Lou O'Kelley (1908-1997) who painted scenes of their earlier lives, that more than likely carried an overture of ruralism and were done with simplicity. These artists had also opted not to portray many of the twentieth-century changes that have occurred in both the transportation and communications fields.

In the 21st Century, Folk Art is no less important today than it had been in the 1700 and 1800 hundreds. We continue to find evidence of folk art in quits, basketry, hand-made boxes and carved, collectable signs.

Although, in today's market, folk art is not merely used as a form of self-expression, it is also done with the intention of gaining profit from their sales. Antique stores, yard sales and estate sales will often time have artifacts from the earlier Folk Artists for sale at nominal prices.

Who knows, maybe if you climb into that dusty old attic or sneak down into that musty aged basement of your grandparents, you may find stashed in that old mildewing box an interesting piece of American Folk Art.


Research Links

Art and Art History-Folk Art

... NK805. A677 Annotated entries arranged by topics which include the history and background of folk art, criticism and aethetic philosophies, genres, biographies ...

Reader's Companion to American History - -FOLK ART

The Reader's Companion to American History. FOLK ART. It is necessary to suspend the criteria with which academic art is usually considered ...

History of Hobo Art at Artisans Folk art, antiques, and outsider ...

History of Hobo Art at Artisans gallery of folk art, antiques, and outsider art. ... Folk art, antiques, and outsider art. The History of Hobo Art. ...

Hungarian folk art, Budapest Architecture, Art in Hungary

FOLK ART The folk art of Hungary springs from a lively tradition of creativity found in many forms in the countryside. The spontaneous ...

Harrisonburg Rockingham Historical Society

... of General Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson's Valley Campaign and both temporary and permanent exhibit space featuring folk art and the history of Harrisonburg and ...

Modern / Contemporary Folk Art History

Modern / Contemporary Folk Art History. Folk art predominates the permanent collection at the Museo de las Américas. The majority ...

Explore American Folk Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Learn ...

AMERICAN FOLK ART IN THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART. Drawings March 2 - September 5, 1999 Paintings March 2, 1999 - January 2, 2000. ...

About the Folk Art Society: A Brief History of the Folk Art ...

... Wis., professor of art history, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Frank Holt, Orlando, Fla., director of Mennello Museum of American Folk Art; Larry Kent, Vista ...

Smithsonian: Crafts, Folk and Decorative Arts

... Rural Routes: Folk Art Mailboxes of America Rural Americans use mailboxes to express their ... La Frontera Provides a glimpse of the border's history and culture, ...


... and the recognition of the vigor and richness of folk art from diverse ... Museum of Quilts and Textiles is to promote the art, craft and history of quilts ...

Folk Art Unit

... Grandview - Where Art and Life Take Wing index.html History and photos of Nick Engelbert's folk art farm in Wisconsin . ...

Folk, Self-Taught, and Outsider Art > Artists in the Yahoo! ...

... Lambert, Jim - wall- and free-standing folk art figures crafted from found and cast-off ... EOM site, with a bio, history and photos of both the man and his Land ...

Teacher Guide Introduction

... This Folk Art and Lore Virtual Museum is designed to provide a collection of ... information resources for a unit on cultural contributions to art history and the ... es

Art History by Country or Region

... Search. Art History, Art History by Country or Region. Art History by Country or Region Articles & Resources. ... Chinese Arts Chinese folk arts and crafts ...



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