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Inside the Outside

Self-Taught Artists from the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation

Daniels Pavilion

© Edward Rubin
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Inside the Outside:
Self-Taught Artists from the William Louis-Dreyfus Foundation

Part of The Baker Museum Lecture Series


Karen Wilkin


What compels someone to make art? The French critic André Malraux suggested that painters and sculptors during their formative years are moved more by works of art than by reality. Yet some of the most inventive artists rarely if ever encountered art in their youth. This lecture discusses the diverse evolutions and contributions of five such self-taught artists now featured in the Inside the Outside exhibition: James Castle, Thornton Dial, Nellie Mae Rowe, Bill Traylor and Willie Young.


Karen Wilkin

Karen Wilkin


Karen Wilkin is a New York-based curator and critic specializing in 20th century Modernism.  Educated at Barnard College and Columbia University, she was awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and a Fulbright Scholarship to Rome.  From 1971-78, she was chief curator of the Art Gallery of Alberta, Canada.  She is the author of monographs on Stuart Davis, David Smith, Anthony Caro, Kenneth Noland, Helen Frankenthaler, Isaac Witkin, Giorgio Morandi and Hans Hofmann and has organized exhibitions and lectured on the work of these artists internationally. Her work on self-taught artists includes essays on Thornton Dial, Bill Traylor and James Castle and major contributions to the catalogues of History Refused to Die: The Enduring Legacy of the African American Art of Alabama and Inside the Outside.

She was a contributing editor of the Stuart Davis: A Catalogue Raisonné and the Hans Hofmann Paintings Catalogue Raisonné. She is contributing editor for art for The Hudson Review and a regular contributor to The New Criterion, The Wall Street Journal, and The Hopkins Review.

Recent projects include the touring exhibition American Vanguards: John Graham, Stuart Davis, Arshile Gorky, Willem de Kooning and their Circle, 1927-1942, for the Addison Gallery of American Art (named best exhibition of 2012 by The Boston Globe). Hans Hofmann: Works on Paper, a Retrospective will be seen at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jacksonville, Florida, and the Portland Museum of Art, Maine, in 2017.

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