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The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman

May 20, 2016
August 21, 2016

The avant-garde sculptor Elie Nadelman (1882-1946) is widely recognized for his elegant, modernist works. Less familiar is the pioneering folk art collection he established with his wife, an impressive trove of some 15,000 objects that was purchased by the New-York Historical Society in 1937. Influenced by the “peasant arts” of his native Poland and other European countries, Nadelman began collecting after immigrating to New York City in 1914. There he met and married the wealthy and cosmopolitan Viola Spiess Flannery (1878-1962) in 1919, with whom he collected American and European folk art with an all-consuming passion. The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman celebrates their extraordinary trove with the first major examination of the collection, showcasing more than 200 objects displayed to evoke the couple's groundbreaking Museum of Folk and Peasant Arts in Riverdale, NY. New-York Historical's holdings are exhibited alongside loans of key Nadelman sculptures to illuminate the intersection between folk art and modernism. Before its presentation at the New-York Historical Society, the traveling exhibition was shown at the Albuquerque Museum in New Mexico. After the N-YHS venue, it travels to the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusetts, in September 2016. The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, Making It Modern: The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman (D Giles Limited, 2015), co-authored by exhibition curators Margaret K. Hofer, Museum Director, and Roberta J.M. Olson, Curator of Drawings.

Leadership support for The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman provided by the
Henry Luce Foundation.

Generous support also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Greater Hudson Heritage Network, American Folk Art Society, and Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund.


Exhibition Catalogue




Family Activity Guide



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Creative: Tronvig Group