Grandma Moses: behind the folksy images, a canny operator

The Bennington Museum and the Shelburne Museum, both in Vermont, have produced a great show and catalogue covering the art of Anna Robertson Moses, who was born in 1860 on the eve of Lincoln’s election as president and died in 1961 at the dawn of the Space Age. We know her as Grandma Moses.

Moses was a farm wife in tiny Eagle Bridge on the New York-Vermont border when Otto Kallir, the Vienna refugee and dealer, discovered her in 1938. He introduced her to New York audiences along with his other artists, among them Klimt, Schiele and a raft of German Expressionists. Alfred Baur included her in a group show on originality in contemporary American art soon afterwards. She became the most famous Outsider artist in America and an icon of Yankee charm.

She became a Vermont artist in part because there is no “Upstate New York School”. New York wouldn’t know what to do with her. She is part of the American Regionalist movement. The only painters getting rich in the 1930s were the Regionalists such as Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood. Moses was the Vermont variant. Marsden Hartley moved to Maine at the same time and retooled his art and marketing. He became a painter of Maine. Read more

2018-10-29T11:04:27+00:00