New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Painting Today, 1950
Minneapolis, Minnesota, The Dayton Company, Grandma Moses: Sixty of Her Masterpieces, 1951
Santa Barbara, California, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Grandma Moses, 1953
New York, IBM Gallery, A Tribute to Grandma Moses, 1955
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, One Hundred and Fifty-First Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture, January-February 1956, no. 141
New York, Gallery of Modern Art, Art and Life of Grandma Moses, 1969
New York, Hammer Galleries, Grandma Moses, December 1971, illustrated in color on the cover
Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art, Grandma Moses 1860-1961, 1979
New York, Hammer Galleries, Grandma Moses, May-June 1980
New York, Hammer Galleries; Seattle, Washington, Frye Art Museum, Grandma Moses, An Artist's Legacy, March-July 1988, illustrated in color p. 5
The Artist's Record Book, no. 1417, p. 53
Grandma Moses, The Four Seasons, Port Chester, New York, 1956, illustrated
Nora Kramer, ed., The Grandma Moses Storybook, New York, 1961, illustrated
William Armstrong, Barefoot In the Grass: The Story of Grandma Moses, Garden City, New York, 1970, illustrated in color on front endpapers
Otto Kallir, Grandma Moses, New York, 1973, no. 921, p. 307, illustrated in color p. 243
As a young child growing up on a farm, Anna Mary Roberston Moses enjoyed painting on the inexpensive paper her father occassionally supplied: "I would draw the picture, then color it with grape juice or berries, anything that was red and pretty in my way of thinking ..." (My Life's History, 1946, p. 26-27). Her pragmatic mother, however, discouraged her daughter's interest in art and urged her to learn "women's work," such as knitting and dress making, so that she would be better prepared for her likely future as a farmwife. Married to Thomas Salmon Moses at twenty-seven, Moses intimated in her autobiography that her husband possessed the same practical attitude towards her painting as her mother. She and her husband farmed together in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley where she bore ten children, only five of whom survived to adulthood. She earned extra grocery money by running the butter business on a nearby dairy farm and later, when they moved to another farm, starting a potato chip business on the side. As a consequence of her demanding daily farm life, Moses had little time to devote to painting as an adult.
When her children were grown, and she and her husband were no longer running their farm, Moses was able to turn her attention to more creative interests. She initially produced worsted (needlework) pictures, until the work irritated her arthritic hands. She noted in her autobiography: "My sister Celestia came down one day and saw my worsted pictures and said, 'I think you could paint better and faster than you could do worsted pictures.' So I did and painted for pleasure, to keep busy and to pass the time away, but I thought no more of it than doing fancy work" (My Life's History, p. 129). Shortly before Thomas Moses' death in 1927, he had begun to take an interest in her paintings; his blessing and encouragement further fueled her growing productivity. Jean McMahon Numez notes, "Moses's touching belief that her husband's spirit 'had something to do about this painting business' seems to have given her permission to spend the rest of her life doing what was so 'foolish' for a hardworking, serious farm woman" ("The Life and Art of Anna Mary Robertson Moses," Woman's Art Journal, Autumn 1980/Winter 1981, p. 10).
Moses initially sold her paintings for two and three dollars, depending on their size, alongside homemade jams and preserves in local stores in Hoosick Falls. In 1938, collector Louis Caldor saw her work in the window of a drugstore and brought it to the attention of Otto Kallir, director of the newly founded Galerie St. Etienne in New York. Kallir was struck by "the way the artist handled the landscape. ... Though she had never heard of any rules of perspective, Mrs. Moses had achieved an impression of depth [with color] ... creating a compelling truth and closeness to nature" (as quoted in K.A. Marling, Designs on the Heart: The Homemade Art of Grandma Moses, 2006, pp. 126-7). Kallir gave the eighty year old Moses her first solo show in 1940. The show, titled "What A Farm Wife Painted," was praised as a welcome, distinctly American alternative to modern art and its European influences. With the support and patronage of Otto Kallir, Grandma Moses continued to paint prolifically, completing over 1,600 works before she died in 1961, not long after her 101st birthday.
Grandma Moses' paintings of the countryside feature the myriad details of rural existence and likely reflect some of her family's happiest memories: winter scenes involve the cutting down of Christmas trees, sleigh rides and tapping maples for syrup; fall subjects show harvesting activities, Halloween, and chasing turkeys; and spring and summer landscapes portray cheerful picnics, barn dances and country fairs. Country fairs were a popular source of entertainment, commerce, and social activities for those that lived on rural farms. In her own colloquial way, Grandma Moses wrote: "There is a little fair that is held up in Vermont one day in the year, when all of the natives come down from the mountain in their every day customs, the women in the sun bonnets and check aprons, the men in patched overhauls, leading a cow or pig the wimon with a few chickens, or braded rugs, maybe an ox, and some beens. They come to meet thir friends, and a day of pleasure, and they did say, if you were not drunk by ten o'clock, they would put you in the coop and keep you there till you paid a fine, that was thir way of making money. A mean yankey trick, but they allwise had a large crowd and a joly good time" (Grandma Moses: American Primitive, 1947, n.p.)
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