Acquisitions News

As U.S. Museums Work to Build Folk and Vernacular Art Collections, Pérez Art Museum Miami Scores a Trove

Sam Doyle, "Ford"

Sam Doyle, Ford, circa 1970.

COURTESY OF GORDON W. BAILEY

The Pérez Art Museum Miami has scored a key gift of art from the American South, broadening its collections and bringing 26 artists into its holdings for the first time.

The bounty of 46 pieces comes from Los Angeles–based collector Gordon W. Bailey, and predominantly features essential and long-overlooked African-American artists like Purvis Young, Thornton Dial, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Clementine Hunter, Minnie Evans, and Sam Doyle.

The acquisition comes as some U.S. museums have committed to redressing historical biases in their collections, with one area of focus being the art of such so-called self-taught, outsider, vernacular or folk figures—variously coded terms typically denoting some level of marginalization based on class, geography, or race.

PAMM’s director, Franklin Sirmans, told ARTnews over email, “These great artists . . . are still underrepresented in our nation’s museums, and have so much to offer in the understanding of the human impulse to create. Here in Miami this gift will further elucidate the work of our region and highlight one of our city’s greatest artists, in Purvis Young, who has been part of the collection since 2005.”

This is Bailey’s second major gift to the museum—he gave 14 works to PAMM in 2016. The collector first met Sirmans when the director was contemporary art department head at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Sirmans added, “PAMM’s collection, born out of discussions in the mid-1990s, has always aimed to provide a view informed by its place at the foot of the American South and at the nexus of the Caribbean and Latin America.”

“PAMM is establishing a reputation as one of America’s most progressive museums,” Bailey said in a statement. “The museum’s expanding collection reflects its vibrant home city . . . and adds to its presence as a dynamic cultural center.”

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