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Harvard Art Museums Receive Gift of Outsider Art from Didi and David Barrett

Harvard Art Museums, October 21, 2011
News Release

Download: Press Release (PDF, 207.25 K)

The Harvard Art Museums announce a gift of 38 drawings, paintings, and sculpture from Didi and David Barrett's 20th-century American Collection of Self-Taught, Folk, and Outsider Art. The gift comprises works by 24 American "outsider" artists, mostly from the 1930s through the 1990s. Among the notable figures represented in the collection are Bill Traylor, Joseph Yoakum, and Nellie Mae Rowe, whose work first came to public attention in the important Corcoran Gallery of Art exhibition Black Folk Art in America, 1930-1980. In addition, the Barretts' gift includes three rare "ledger book drawings" made by members of the Plains Indian tribes in the late 19th century.

"We are grateful to Didi and David Barrett for their generous gift," said Thomas W. Lentz, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard Art Museums. "These ‘outsider' works take our holdings of American contemporary art in an exciting new direction, providing a unique opportunity for study and appreciation by students, scholars, and visitors."

Didi and David Barrett (Harvard '71) have been involved with self-taught art for nearly three decades. Didi, a writer and consultant in the not-for-profit sector, is a trustee emerita of the American Folk Art Museum and has written on self-taught art. David Barrett is a lawyer with the firm of Boies Schiller & Flexner in New York. Their son, Alec Barrett, graduated from Harvard in 2011.

"Didi and I are especially pleased to be making this gift to the Harvard Art Museums and glad that the museums are recognizing these profoundly creative artists and their powerful expressions of the American spirit," said David Barrett. "The university is an ideal venue for exploring this interdisciplinary material, not only in art-historical terms, but also in terms of history, cultural anthropology, sociology, and even psychology."

"Working with David and Didi Barrett has been both a great pleasure and a wonderful learning experience," said Theodore E. Stebbins Jr., Consultative Curator of American Art at the Harvard Art Museums. "The objects in the Barrett collection are inspirational and come at a pivotal time when our faculty and students have been asking for works of this genre."

Related Lawyer: David A. Barrett

External Link: Harvard Art Museums Receive Gift of Outsider Art from Didi and David Barrett

Download: Press Release (PDF, 207.25 K)