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Henry Darger
At Phelantonburg. They raid a guardhouse / At Calmanrina Escape Through City Tunnel./ Last at Phelantonberg. They Witness a Massaacre of Children.
Mid-20th century
American Folk Art Museum
Photo by James Prinz
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AFAM’S CURATOR PROBLEM
by Jerry Saltz



The American Folk Art Museum is one of my favorite museums in America. It’s also one of my least favorites. I love the museum because it’s committed to showing so-called "outsider art," which I would define as art so visionary that the "real" art world can’t process it without relegating it to this ridiculous niche. (All great art is visionary; all great artists are in some way self-taught.) I hate the museum because its horrendous building smothers the art and vision contained within. And now the institution faces a new challenge: Last week brought the sad, startling news that curator Brooke Davis Anderson has been snatched up as Deputy Director for Curatorial Planning at the ambitious Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In the last decade as AFAM’s curator, Anderson, a brilliant scholar, organized extraordinary exhibitions of Martin Ramirez and Henry Darger and oversaw shows of Adolf Wolfli and Thomas Chambers -- four of the greatest artists of the 20th century. Come September, LA’s gain will be New York’s loss. (This, by the way, makes the fourth such coup, after Anne Philbin leaving the Drawing Center to become Director of the Hammer, Michael Govan departing Dia to work as Director of LACMA, and Jeffrey Deitch being named Director of LA MoCA.)

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