William Edmondson

American Folk Art Museum

FOR MORE THAN SIXTY YEARS, the limestone sculptures of William Edmondson (1874–1951) have stood patiently at the border of art's mainstream and its margins. When his minimal, reductive work came to the attention of Alfred Barr, the self-taught carver became the first African American to be granted a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, in 1937. Yet despite this early crossover, Edmondson's work has been consistently ignored by a museum-market machine that privileges a baroque outsider sensibility. Now “The Art of William Edmondson,” a traveling retrospective organized by the Cheekwood Museum of Art in Nashville, gives Edmondson's oeuvre long-overdue recognition and breaks new ground by offering a full account of the cultural and aesthetic framework within which the artist lived and worked.

As the catalogue eloquently argues, Edmondson was intensely involved in his community: Born

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