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Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum
June 19–September 11, 2016
Main Exhibition Galleries, East Building


Self-Taught Genius explores American folk art through the concept of a "self-taught genius," an enduring term that has changed dramatically over time. Framed within a context of seven principles from which people are compelled to create—achievers, encoders, messengers, improvement, reformers, ingenuity, and guides—this exhibition highlights more than 100 remarkable works by self-taught artists.

The exhibition considers the shifting implications of self-taught and outsider art in the United States, from an established movement of self-education to artists working outside traditional frameworks who defy our understanding of what is "normal." Yet these artists have managed to establish lively artistic traditions and influence younger generations to create. Self-Taught Genius features a variety of objects including textiles and needlework, ceramics, sculptural and carved figures, drawings, paintings, decorated furniture, and more, dating from the 18th century to the present.

Organized by the American Folk Art Museum, Self-Taught Genius was brought to the Saint Louis Art Museum by Melissa Wolfe, curator of American art.