PRINT Summer 1976

Problems in Folk Art

THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM IS to be congratulated on having mounted a large exhibition of folk art—sculpture, specifically—that takes a point of view. Most folk art shows are compendia of everything from quilts to gravestones, blithely presented in a spirit of nationalistic celebration. Despite museum settings, art is moved from stage-center and set to mingling with the crafts. Herbert W. Hemphill, Jr., guest curator for the Brooklyn Museum, rejects that displacement. By mounting an exhibition of folk sculpture he makes the full claim for art. He eliminated quasi-commercial types of production, like cigar-store Indians, carousel figures and gravestones, because he believes such forms submerge the individuality of the artist. The result is an exhibition that has few pretty, fanciful and old-timey works, but many large-scale, emotionally intense pieces. Much of the art was produced by living

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