Making it Modern: The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman

Exhibition Website

May 20 2016 - Aug 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 will celebrate their extraordinary trove with the first major examination of the collection, showcasing more than 200 objects.  N-YHS’s holdings will be 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. 

Whether you go or not, a fully-illustrated exhibition catalogue, Making It Modern: The Folk Art Collection of Elie and Viola Nadelman, selects fron among the nearly 15,000 works in a collection that spans six centuries, thirteen countries, and a broad range of media. Curators/authors Margaret K. Hofer and Roberta J.M. Olson explore a nucleus of some two
hundred and sixteen highlights in eighty-seven catalog entries, as well as nine of Nadelman's own sculptures, and consider the possible interchanges between the Nadelman's collecting and his avant-garde art.

  • International
  • Folk Art

Exhibition Venues & Dates