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ANE Portfolio Posts

Mar 26, 2013
About “Great and Mighty Things”

by Henry McMahon

Some of the most striking works in the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s “Great and Mighty Things”: Outsider Art from the Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Collection, are the sculptures of William Edmondson, who was born in 1874 to former slaves and held various manual labor jobs until his mid-50s, when a series of divine visitations—and the commandment to take up stone carving—prompted two decades of remarkably accomplished sculpting. Immediately recognizable as the subjects they depict, each of Edmondson’s carved limestone sculptures (Woman, Angel, Horse with Short Tail, Horse with Long Tail, Three Birds, and Sheep) takes form by a subtle interplay of simple planes. They are solid and believable without being overly descriptive (rough chisel marks denote the sheep’s fleece, the horses’ coats, the woman’s hair and the angel’s wings), deriving their power from a restrained economy of means.

Boffo. William Hawkins, American, 1895-1990....


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