Cover image for American folk : folk art from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
American folk : folk art from the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Ward, Gerald W. R.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston, Mass. : MFA Publications ; New York : available through D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, [2001]

Physical Description:
111 pages : color illustrations ; 27 cm
General Note:
"Published in conjunction with the exhibition ... organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, from April 8, 2001, to August 5, 2001"--T.p. verso.
Added Corporate Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NK805 .W37 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Folk art has been part of the American idiom for nearly as long as America has been a nation. Today it remains one of the best-loved and most fervently collected forms of American art, a diverse and authentic vernacular expression. "American Folk" presents over 60 remarkable objects from one of the country's most prominent collections of folk art, many of them never before published. Included are paintings, carvings, textiles, prints, "frakturs," furniture, and utilitarian objects, dating from the late 18th to the early 20th century. They include such masterpieces as Erastus Salisbury Field's lush "The Garden of Eden," E.L. George's surrealistic "Child in a Rocking Chair," a complex, monumental quilt by the former slave Harriet Powers, and Wilhelm Schimmel's extraordinary carved animals--as well as a remarkable assortment of whirligigs, windmills, decorated chests, figurines, and even carousel animals. The introductory essay by curator Gerald W.R. Ward discusses the elusive notion of ''folk art'' itself and presents the history of its acquisition by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Published in conjunction with a major exhibition at the MFA, "American Folk" is a vibrant and engaging introduction to one of our proudest cultural traditions.

Author Notes

Gerald W. R. Ward is the Katharine Lane Weems Curator of Decorative Arts and Sculpture, Art of the Americas, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Accompanying the first major exhibit from the folk art collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, this volume highlights everyday life in 19th-century America. Written by an interdepartmental staff of curators, including Ward (editor, American Furniture with Related Decorative Arts, 1660-1830) and Carol Troyen (Awash in Color: Homer, Sargent, and the Great American Watercolor), the book provides a sampler of the museum's rich collection of American folk art objects made before 1920. Ward's eloquent introduction defines and describes folk art in general, then discusses the collection's evolution at the museum and its New England focus. Organized into five subject sections, the generous color photographs, with selected detailed enlargements, present a sufficient alternative for those who cannot physically observe the exhibit. Accompanying captions complement each piece with both descriptive and historic information. The authors present an informative, well-researched, and visually accessible volume, whetting the appetite for in-depth reading, which is suggested in the selective bibliography. Despite its regional focus, the work should appeal to aesthetes across the country; recommended for libraries with strong folk and early American art collections. Rebecca Tolley-Stokes, Eastern Tennessee State Univ. Lib., Johnson City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.