The American Folk Art Museum and Audrey B. Heckler have announced that Ms. Heckler will donate her collection to the museum, starting with the immediate donation of three masterpieces by Martín Ramírez, Barbus Müller (aka Antoine Rabany) and Achilles B. Rizzoli. These early works will be exhibited later this year in a permanent gallery named in honor of Ms. Heckler.
“Audrey B. Heckler has been involved with this institution – as a trustee, supporter and passionate champion of self-taught art – for three decades,” said Jason T. Busch, Director of the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM) . “With this expression of her generosity, Audrey once again demonstrates a deep commitment to the museum and the field. We are both honored and humbled. There’s no better way to kick off the museum’s 60th anniversary art donation campaign.
The collection agreement with Ms Heckler and the name designation for the gallery were officially announced today at the September museum board meeting.
Ms Heckler commented: “I love these works of art and have collected them with care. I want them to stay together and be a part of the American Folk Art Museum – a place I deeply treasure – so that they can be enjoyed by visitors, academics, and artists for years to come.
Ms. Heckler, a dedicated administrator since 2003, has enriched the museum through loans for exhibitions, donations to the collection, and financial support for museum initiatives, including the leadership of the Council for Self-Taught Art and Art Brut, and the Visionary Award, which honors an individual or organization that has made a distinctive contribution to the recognition of self-taught artists. Past recipients include Souls Grown Deep Foundation, Phyllis Kind, Tom di Maria and Creative Growth, John Maizels and Raw vision, as well as the exhibition of the Corcoran Gallery of Art from 1982 Black folk art in America, 1930-1980. The award ceremony has been organized by the museum for twelve years. In 2019, Ms. Heckler was honored at AFAM’s annual gala for her long-standing and impactful contributions to the museum.
“Audrey has meticulously built one of the richest self-taught art collections in the country over the past twenty-five years,” said AFAM’s senior curator, Dr. Valérie Rousseau. “It conveys a broad horizon of expertise, aesthetics, inventiveness and artistic mindsets, while providing an in-depth global landscape of individual creativity. This donation creates a unique opportunity for the museum to pursue its mission and further contextualize self-taught art for its audience.
Launch of the anniversary acquisition campaign with a gift
The announcement officially launches the museum’s 60th anniversary campaign to further deepen and diversify the museum’s collection. Throughout its anniversary, the museum will share news of major acquisitions, as well as exhibitions, programs and initiatives that bring to life the full and dynamic history of self-taught art, in all media, from its beginnings to These days. A full announcement on the museum’s anniversary plans will be made in early January 2021.
About the Audrey B. Heckler collection
The Audrey B. Heckler Collection summarizes the growth of the self-taught art field in the United States. There are key examples of European art brut, including works by Aloïse Corbaz, August Klett, Augustin Lesage and Anna Zemánková; works by African-American artists such as Thornton Dial, William Edmondson, Sister Gertrude Morgan and Sam Doyle; American classics by Henry Darger, Emery Blagdon, Morris Hirshfield and James Castle; and 21st century additions from around the world by artists such as Guo Fengyi and Christine Sefolosha.
The works of art in this collection have received critical acclaim and near record attendance during Memory Palace: Inside the Audrey B. Heckler Collection. The exhibition, which was on display at the American Folk Art Museum from September 16, 2019 to January 26, 2020, featured over 160 works by over 80 artists and was exclusively from Ms. Heckler’s collection. The international reach and diversity that underpin its collection was the subject of a 2017 publication entitled Hidden Art: 20th and 21st Century Self-Taught Artists from the Audrey B. Heckler Collection. This important resource celebrates the individual contributions and legacy of self-taught artists, with thoughtful essays by thirty-two renowned scholars on these artists. Hidden art has been published by the American Folk Art Museum in partnership with Rizzoli International Publications.