Jun 09 — Aug 19, 2022
Fleisher/Ollman is pleased to announce two summer exhibitions: a solo presentation of Philadelphia Wireman, and New Inventory Masterworks.
New Inventory Masterworks features an impressive roster of 20th century artists who are regarded as pioneers in the self-taught realm and are increasingly recognized for their contributions to American Modernism. Several of the artists including William Hawkins, Frank Jones, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Nellie Mae Rowe, Bill Traylor, and Joseph Yoakum arrived at art making much later in life. As marginalized African Americans who were poor, elderly (or at least middle-aged), displaced, or incarcerated (as in the case of Frank Jones), it was only after they could no longer work for a living that they were able to give full attention to their creative impulses. In contrast to the trajectories of this group, James Castle—who was white, born deaf and never learned to speak, sign, or write—began making art at a young age and continued with prolific zeal until his death at the age of 78. Castle, unlike the artists of color presented here, could afford to devote his entire life to his art through the support of his family.
For some, part of the attraction to self-taught art lies in the narrative of discovery (see the Philadelphia Wireman story, for example). To this day, Castle’s art is occasionally found bundled behind walls of his family home decades after his death. Even more stunning was the discovery of Pearl Blauvelt’s entire body of work, which was found in a wooden box in her abandoned family home as it underwent renovations in northeast Pennsylvania. As in the case of Castle, the discovery occurred years after her death (she died in 1987). Here, we present a sampling of Blauvelt’s drawings that share affinities with Castle in terms of domestic subject matter and landscape.