Grandma Moses (American, September 7, 1860–December 13, 1961) was a painter whose American Folk Art broke exhibition attendance records regularly. Moses, born Anna Mary Robertson, is known primarily as a painter. However, she actually began her artistic work as an embroiderer. Her fine needlework was well admired locally, but served as a hobby rather than a profession. However, by the time she hit her late 70s, holding the needle for embroidery became too painful, so she switched to painting instead. She had no training in art, and she started to create her earliest works as gifts.

Her earlier works show the lack of art education in their primitiveness, lacking a sense of perspective but featuring a realistic style. Most of these early paintings were given away, but Grandma Moses did manage a few sales, charging US$2 or US $3 depending on painting size, with the larger paintings being more expensive. Her discovery by a wider audience came about due to the purchases of her paintings by a New York art collector in 1938. The collector, Louis J. Caldor, bought as many of her works as possible, and then exhibited them at the Museum of Modern Art in New York at a Contemporary Unknown American Painters exhibition. Her paintings made such a positive impact on the exhibition viewers that she was given her first solo exhibition in 1940 at the Galerie St. Etienne in New York. Her What a Farm Wife Painted exhibition was a success and an additional exhibition followed at Gimbel''s Department Store, with the display of 50 paintings at their Thanksgiving Festival. After the Gimbel''s display, her paintings became collector''s items.

Grandma Moses''s popularity was driven in large part by her grandmotherly image. Her status as a farm wife was often remarked upon at her exhibitions, with the Gimbel''s exhibition including a table filled with her cooked goods located just under the painting to emphasize her origins. She produced a large number of paintings throughout her career, creating some 1,600 canvasses. Some of this work was used as advertisements, or reproduced in a number of mediums from Christmas cards to fabrics. The painting The Old Checkered Inn, for example, was used as background for a lip gloss advertising campaign. After her death, Grandma Moses’s work remained popular, with one painting, Sugaring Off, created in 1943, selling for US$1.2 million in 2006.

Grandma Moses’s work brought her many honors. She was given an award for outstanding achievement in art by the Women''''s National Press Club in 1951, presented to her by US President Truman, and, in 1960, she had her 100th birthday declared Grandma Moses Day by the New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Moses published an autobiography in 1952 titled Grandma Moses: My Life''s History. Her work is still in high demand, and her estate is represented through the Galerie St. Etienne in New York.

Timeline

1860
Born Anna Mary Robertson in Greenwich, NY
1872
Began work as a "hired girl" on neighboring farm Washington County, NY
1887
Married Thomas Salmon Moses & moves to Virginia Shenandoah Valley, VA and Staunton, VA
1905
Returned to New York with husband & five children Eagle Bridge, NY
1927
Thomas Salmon Moses died in Eagle Bridge, NY
1930s
Embroidered pictures & paintings Eagle Bridge, NY
1938
Display of paintings discovered by Louis J. Caldor Thomas's Drugstore, Hoosick Falls, NY
1940
1st solo show and special Thanksgiving presentation Gimbels Department Store, New York, NY
1949
Receives award from President Truman Washington, DC
1955
Interviewed by Edward R. Murrow Eagle Bridge, NY
1961
Dies at the age of 101 in Hoosick Falls, NY

Exhibitions

2008
Grandma Moses, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL
2007
A Gift for Santa Barbara - The Dwight and Winifred Vedder Collection, Santa Barabra Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
2006
Essay, Galerie St. Etienne, New York City, NY
1998–1999
Self-Taught Artists (U.S. Traveling Exhibition), Philadelphia Museum of Art and other venues Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
1996
Grandma Moses: Pictures from the Past, Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale, Florida
1995
Grandma Moses, Osaka, Tokyo, Yamaguchi, Chiba, Japan
1990
Grandma Moses, Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Funabashi, Yokohama, Japan
1989
Masters of Naive Art (Japanese Traveling Exhibition), Daimaru Museum and other venues Kyoto, Japan
1987
Grandma Moses, Isetan Museum and other venues Tokyo, Japan
1984
The World of Grandma Moses, New York, NY; Baltimore, MD; Nashville, TN; Omaha, NB; Peoria, IL
1982–1983
Grandma Moses: The Artist Behind the Myth, Galerie St. Etienne and other venues New York, NY
1981–1982
The Folk Art Tradition, Galerie St. Etienne New York, NY
1979
Grandma Moses, National Gallery of Art Washington, DC
1974–1975
Die Kunst der Naïven, Haus der Kunst, Munich; Kunsthaus, Zurich Germany; Switzerland
1968–1972
The Grandma Moses Gallery, Bennington Museum Bennington, VT
1969
Art and Life of Grandma Moses, Gallery of Modern Art New York, NY
1966
1st Triennial of Insitic Art, Nárpolná Galéria Slovenska, Bratislava
1964
Der Lusthof der Naïven, Museum Boymans-van Beuningen Rotterdam, Holland
1964
Der Lusthof der Naïven, Musée National d'Art Moderne Paris, France
1963–1964
A Life's History in 40 Pictures, Austria, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Russia
1962
Grandma Moses: Memorial Exhibition, Galerie St. Etienne New York, NY
1960
My Life's History, IBM Gallery and other venues New York, NY
1955–1957
European Traveling Exhibition, various venues
1944–1956
U.S. Traveling Exhibitions, various venues
1955
A Tribute to Grandma Moses, IBM Gallery New York, NY
1954–1955
American Primitive Paintings, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Norway, UK, Germany
1950
European Traveling Exhibition, various venues
1949
Paintings by Grandma Moses, Phillips Collection Washington, DC
1944
New Paintings by Grandma Moses, Galerie St. Etienne New York, NY
1940
What a Farm Wife Painted, Galerie St. Etienne New York, NY
1939
Contemporary Unknown Painters, Museum of Modern Art New York, NY