Joseph Yoakum, of Cherokee, African-American, and French-American ancestry, began drawing his fantastical landscapes while living in Chicago in his later years. He claimed the locations were drawn from memories of his time spent in numerous circuses as a youth, as a soldier serving with the U.S. Army during World War I in Europe, as a vagabond rail rider, and as a stowaway and stevedore in Asia and Australia. He settled in Chicago in the late 1920s, but did not begin drawing his animated recollections until 1962. It was the 1960s Chicago Imagists who were among the first to herald him. His work has most recently been featured in group exhibitions at the National Gallery, Washington, D.C.; the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittburgh, PA; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. His drawings are in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago; The Menil Collection, Houston, TX; Milwaukee Museum of Art; Museum of American Folk Art, New York, NY; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; and the Philadelphia Museum Art among others.
National Gallery of Art
Jan 28–May 13, 2018
Curated by Lynne Cooke, and including Eugene Von Bruenchenhein, James Castle, Howard Finster, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Gladys Nilsson, Jim Nutt, Elijah Pierce, Horace Pippin, Christina Ramber, Martín Ramírez, Edgar Tolson, Bill Trayor, P.M. Wentworth, H.C. Westermann, Joseph Yoakum, Forrest Bess, Roger Brown, William Edmondson, Lee Godie, Morris Hirshfield, among others.