Grandma Moses comes home to Galerie St. Etienne

Editorial Staff Art

When the Museum of Modern Art hosted an exhibition of contemporary unknown artists in 1939 one artist to be discovered was Anna Mary Robertson Moses. Beloved as much for her sweet persona as for her winsome paintings, the self-taught folk artist from Eagle Bridge, New York, was 79 years old at the time. Luckily, for the sake of American art history, “Grandma” Moses lived to the age 101, and with her mainstream success she was encouraged to take her art more seriously and to work on a more ambitious scale.

A wonderful array of paintings spanning Moses’s amazing career is on view in a loan exhibition at Galerie St. Etienne in New York City that runs through April 3. Celebrating the 70th anniversary of Moses’s first solo exhibition held at Galerie St. Etienne titled “What a Farm Wife Painted,” nine of the sixty-eight works on view were included in the original 1940 installation. Paintings from the Bennington Museum of Art, which has the largest public collection of her art, the Shelbourne Museum of Art, and the Phillips Collection—a work that was purchased by Duncan Phillips in 1941—are shown alongside several examples from private collections and a handful that are for sale. A small group of Moses’s hand embroidered “worsted pictures,” artist’s tools, and archival materials are also included.

Although her work was dismissed by most critics because of its Hallmark card appeal, Moses’s charming scenes of work and play, families and neighbors, and the changing seasons may find more nuanced appreciation in the 21st century now that her work is no longer in the commercial spotlight.

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The Old Bridge in the Valley, 1944. See the Kite, 1955. Bringing in the Maple Sugar, 1940. Moving Day on the Farm, 1951. Old Covered Bridge, Woodstock, 1944. © Grandma Moses Properties Co., New York. Courtesy Galerie St. Etienne, New York.