Indepth Arts News: |
"The Art of William Edmondson"
2001-02-16 until 2001-05-19
Elegant in its simplicity, striking in its sophistication, the
sculptural work of William Edmondson embodies an aesthetic
that is familiar to the contemporary art world. Yet this
self-taught master, born in 1874 to freed slaves just outside of
Nashville, lived far away from any artistic training. Barely able
to read or write, he worked a number of odd jobs until around
1931, when he claimed that God appeared to him and conferred
upon him the gift of cutting stone.
went to work fashioning his own tools and making tombstones
out of discarded limestone blocks. As his love for carving grew,
his subject matter expanded to include human figures, animals,
birdbaths and other forms. New York fashion photographer
Louise Dahl-Wolfe visited Edmondson in Nashville and took a
series of photos of the artist and his sculpture-filled backyard
between 1934 and 1937. After seeing these photos, The Museum
of Modern Arts director, Alfred Barr, made Edmondson the first
African American to have a one-man show at MoMA.
This exhibition, organized by the Cheekwood Museum of Art, Nashville, TN, is the first full-scale traveling
retrospective of Edmondsons work. Featuring more than forty sculptural works, all carved between 1930 and 1947, this
installation is complemented by photographs of Edmondsons work in progress taken by Dahl-Wolfe and other notable
The Art of William Edmondson is sponsored by the Henry Luce Foundation, Inc. Additional support has been
provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Girl with Cape,
Limestone, 26 x 14 x 7 inches,
Collection of the Cheekwood Museum of Art,
Gift of the Estate of Elizabeth Lyle Starr