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Earl Cunningham's America

Image for Earl Cunningham's America

Earl Cunningham, Blue Sail Fleet Returns, after 1949, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Mennello

Earl Cunningham’s America examines the paintings of Earl Cunningham (1893–1977), one of the foremost folk artists of the twentieth century. This retrospective presents the artist as a folk modernist who used flat space and brilliant color to create sophisticated compositions with complex meanings about the nature of American life. The exhibition and the fully-illustrated catalogue trace the story of Cunningham’s life and place his work in the context of the folk art revival that brought Edward Hicks, Grandma Moses, Horace Pippin and other folk masters to national attention. Virginia Mecklenburg, senior curator at the museum, organized the exhibition.

The exhibition travels to the American Folk Art Museum in New York City (March 4, 2008 – August 31, 2008); the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York (September 26, 2008 – December 31, 2008); and The Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando, Florida (March 6, 2009 – August 2, 2009).

The catalogue is written by Mecklenburg, with essays by Wendell D. Garrett, senior vice president for American decorative arts at Sotheby's in New York City; and Carolyn J. Weekley, the Juli Grainger Director of Museums at Colonial Williamsburg. It is available for $45 in the museum's store and online.

Earl Cunningham's America is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The exhibition is made possible by generous support from Darden Restaurants Foundation; the Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation; the Arts and Cultural Affairs Office of Orange County, Fla.; CNL Financial Group; Bright House Networks; Lockheed Martin; and Friends of The Mennello Museum of American Art. The exhibition's tour is supported in part by the C. F. Foundation, Atlanta.