Monday, 20 August 2012

Grandma Moses: an Inspiration for Late Starters. Galerie St Etienne NY

Grandma Moses 1860-1961

Grandma Moses Self-Portrait
Anna Mary Robertson Moses is famous for her wonderful, primitive folk art and for the fact that she started painting in her mid-seventies.

She was already admired for her embroideries and quilts but had to give up her needlework up at this stage of her life owing to arthritis, as it became too difficult for her to hold a needle. One of her sisters Celestia suggested she paint instead and it was a logical progression to continue on canvas.

As she had started  her art career so late she soon became known as Grandma Moses.   
                                    Mount Nebo

Grandma was born on a farm in Greenwich, New York, one of ten children, Later she herself and farmer  husband Thomas Moses had ten children too, although five died in their early childhood. It was completely natural then that Grandma’s needlework and later her paintings were all about country life. They lived at Mount Nebo farm, 30 miles away from Bennington, where the museum there has the largest collection of her work.
She was first discovered in 1938 by astute art collector Louis Caldor who spotted some of her paintings in the windows of a drugstore in Hoosick Falls. He bought them all and rushed round to her house and bought the lot.
Moses Lake
In 1939 three of her paintings were shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in an exhibition called Contemporary Unknown American Painters. By the same time the following year, her work had been shown in three more exhibitions, notably by Otto Kallir at Galerie St Etienne and Gimbel's Department Store.

Grandma’s work was soon put on tiles, cards, biscuit tins, fabrics etc. and was also used in advertisements for unlikely things like lipstick, coffee and cigarettes.

Fame and presumably fortune followed fast, although trawling through the net didn’t say how she spent her money. She was known to be generous, and often gave her paintings in lieu of birthday cards to her family, friends and for people who did something for her, like the postman.

She was constantly cited as an example to old women and widows, to show what they could do in old age. 
The Pond
 Fourth of July

Otto Kallir gave Fourth of July  1948, to the White House. and in 1969 a 6 cent stamp of the painting was issued

At the age of 92, in 1952,  amazing Grandma published her autobiography Grandma Moses: My Life's History.

On her 100th birthday New York held a Grandma Moses Day for her.

By the time she died aged 101 she had been so prolific that over 1600 of her lovely paintings are her legacy to the world.

Thanks to Galerie St. Etienne for their excellent biography:24 West 57th Street, New York,  NY 10019, United States
(212) 245-6734