History Refused to Die features thirty pieces from a larger gift of 57 paintings, drawings and mixed-media works by contemporary, self-taught African-American artists of the Southern United States that the museum received from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation in late 2014.
Shrine’s complementary presentation, Annex, focuses on artists whose works are included in the broader collection of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation but who are not represented in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition. In addition, in an effort to extend the critical conversation surrounding the creations of black self-taught artists of the American South, Annex includes works by Minnie Evans and Ike Morgan, two artists who are not represented by the larger holdings of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation.
Annex proposes that, even as these works may be seen as singular examples of contemporary art, they may also be appreciated as forms of genuine American art brut. The exhibition invites viewers to recall the French modern artist Jean Dubuffet’s pioneering investigations, beginning in the 1940s, of the unusual, hard-to-classify creations of talented self-taught artists who lived and worked on the margins of mainstream culture, which he collectively called “art brut” (literally, “raw art”).
In one well-known description of art brut, Dubuffet described the phenomenon as “art […] created in solitude and of pure and authentic creative impulse […] by persons unscathed by artistic culture.” He added: “These artists derive everything — subjects, choice of materials, means of transposition, rhythms, styles of writing — from their own depths and not from the conventions of classical or fashionable art.”
As critics, historians, curators, collectors, educators and art lovers in the U.S. and other parts of the world continue to reexamine the histories and artistic expressions of cultures and communities that have been traditionally marginalized by mainstream media and institutions, the time has come to honor and celebrate the highly-original creative achievements of artists from such overlooked places and societies.
Featuring works by: Hawkins Bolden, Minnie Evans, Bessie Harvey, Joe Light, Charlie Lucas, Ike Morgan, J.B. Murray, Mary T. Smith, Henry Speller and Mose Tolliver