Author Archives: SLAM

The infinite space of Alice Rahon’s Sandstorm

In the late 1930s and 40s, Mexico had an immense allure for Surrealist artists, many of whom fled the advance of Nazi forces across Europe. Not only were Mexico’s entry procedures for foreigners relatively relaxed, but after a 1938 visit, the French founder of Surrealism, André Breton, declared the country, with its dramatic landscape, idiosyncratic… Read More »

Textile tales of politics and patriotism

Textiles have long been used by many cultures to promote military, political, and commemorative events.  The use of textiles as vehicles for propaganda, though somewhat less known throughout history, is the focus of Textiles: Politics and Patriotism, on view in Gallery 100 through March 5, 2017. Take a close look at the works and you’ll… Read More »

Imi Knoebel’s Minimalist Approach to Color and Shapes

In 1964, two aspiring German art students approached renowned conceptual artist Joseph Beuys and requested he provide them a room at the Staatliche Kunstakadamie, the art academy in Dusseldorf. Surprised by their bold request, Beuys provided Rainer Giese and Klaus Wolf Knoebel access to Studio Number 19 and gave them a one-year timeline to see… Read More »

A Game of Nation, Modernity, and Militarism

Sugoroku, also known as e-sugoroku, is a Japanese board and dice game similar to snakes and ladders, or Chutes and Ladders, that flourished between the 18th and mid-20th centuries. Early versions of the game were intended for religious education. Depending on the whim of the die, one might reach Buddhahood, or alternatively, descend into hell.… Read More »

Q & A with artist Dara Birnbaum

The inspiration for an artist’s work comes from many different driving forces but often starts with the question, “Why create?” Video and installation artist Dara Birnbaum shares her thoughts and process behind the works now on view at the Saint Louis Art Museum and for other works she has created over the past 40 years.… Read More »

The artistic voice of fiber artist Judith Scott

The self-taught artists whose works were selected for the exhibition Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum often had unique circumstances, which unlocked their genius and set them on a path to self-actualization and amazing creativity. One such remarkable artist is Judith Scott, recognized as one of America’s more celebrated visual artists even… Read More »

The self-taught genius of Dave Drake—from slave to American icon

He was known as “Dave the Potter,” “Dave the Slave,” or simply “Dave,” which is how he signed many of his vessels in a beautifully refined cursive script. His name was Dave Drake and the antebellum jug he created in 1853 is one of more than 100 remarkable works on display as part of Self-Taught… Read More »

The self-taught genius of an achiever; Marino Auriti and his Encyclopedic Palace of the World

Standing 11-feet tall Marino Auriti’s Palazzo Enciclopedico or Encyclopedic Palace is an imposing presence at the entrance to Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum where more than 100 works representing the finest examples of American Folk Art are on display. According to his granddaughter, Mary Firmani van Derburgh, “My grandfather was a… Read More »

A Tale of Two Kitties

It was the best of times (exciting new acquisition), it was the worst of times (the Depression). Both wisdom and folly were in ample supply when the Museum purchased Cat, an exquisite Egyptian artifact created during the 26th Dynasty of Egypt (664–525 BC). Sculpted in bronze and originally intended to contain a cat mummy, this… Read More »

Life Through a Lens – Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother, Nipomo, CA

Life. That’s what Dorothea Lange (1895-1965) set out to depict when she captured the iconic image of mother and migrant farm laborer Florence Owens Thompson in 1936. On assignment for the Farm Security Administration to document the impact of federal programs in rural areas, Lange arrived at a California migrant-workers settlement and encountered Thompson, who… Read More »