GRANDMA MOSES
Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses: Apple Butter Making. 1947. Private collection; Courtesy Galerie St. Etienne, New York. c2020, Grandma Moses Properties Co., NY
Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses: Apple Butter Making. 1947. Private collection; Courtesy Galerie St. Etienne, New York. ©2020, Grandma Moses Properties Co., NY
The touring exhibition is scheduled at the following 5 venues:
  • Abeno Harukas Art Museum,Osaka (April 17- June 27, 2021)
  • Nagoya City Art Museum (July 10- September 5, 2021)
  • Shizuoka City Museum of Art (September 14- November 7, 2021)
  • Setagaya Art Museum (November 20, 2021- February 27, 2022)
  • Higashihirosima City Museum of Art (Spring 2022)

The beauty of nature and finding happiness: A gift from Grandma Moses in the age of “100-Year-Life”

Anna Mary Robertson Moses (1860-1961), known by her nickname Grandma Moses, is one of the most famous and beloved artists of modern America. She began painting in earnest in her 70’s as an unknown housewife on a farm in New England and her first solo exhibition was held at 80 in New York City.

This retrospective of Grandma Moses was specially curated to celebrate the 160th anniversary of her birth and is organized for the first time in 16 years in Japan. The show will feature approximately 130 pieces in total, consisting of her paintings that include her earliest works to her last work completed at the age of 100, along with her belongings, some of which will make their first appearance in Japan. This exhibition aims to shed light on the life and world of Grandma Moses who loved nature and simple country living and led a fulfilling centennial life.

Exhibition highlights by chapter:

I. Anna Mary Robertson Moses

Many of Grandma Moses’ paintings illustrate rural life and pastoral landscape in the region across the border of upstate New York and Vermont. It was her land where she spent most of her life and she continued choosing the surroundings as her favorite subject of paintings. In chapter 1, we attempt to introduce some of her life-stage events by selecting relevant and important works. Several embroidered pieces are also shown.

II. Work and Happiness

Grandma Moses’ paintings are filled with stories about the things people had to do for themselves in her day: like making their own soap and candles. Many of these activities-harvesting, sewing quilts-brought people together, so work was often an occasion for joyful comradery. This comradery was also to be found in local events such as weddings or helping a neighbor move house. In this chapter, “Work and Happiness” simple daily life in the rural region is featured.

III. Season’s Celebration

“On a farm the days are nearly all the same,” Grandma Moses wrote. “Nothing changes but the seasons.” All the more, countryfolk relished the nuances of those seasonal changes, and each season had its special celebrations. In February, the sap began to run in the maple trees, which were tapped to make maple syrup and sugar. “Sugaring off” was one of Grandma Moses’ favorite subjects. Summer was the time for picnics. Late summer was apple butter season but the biggest celebrations came in autumn and winter, after the harvest was in; Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

IV. Beautiful World

In this show, not only Grandma Moses’ paintings, but also her belongings and homemade items, which give a glimpse of her private life, along with some important documentary works that highlight her achievements and widespread popularity are exhibited.. Most of these 50 items will make their first appearance in Japan. One of the most noteworthy piece is Tip-top table, painted and used by Grandma Moses as a work table, which has never traveled outside of the USA.

Favorites and Documents

In this show, not only Grandma Moses’ paintings, but also her belongings and homemade items, which give a glimpse of her private life, along with some important documentary works that highlight her achievements and widespread popularity are exhibited.. Most of these 50 items will make their first appearance in Japan. One of the most noteworthy piece is Tip-top table, painted and used by Grandma Moses as a work table, which has never traveled outside of the USA.

Grandma Moses painting in Garden 1946 Photo: Ifor Thomas; Courtesy Galerie St. Etienne, New York. c2020, Grandma Moses Properties Co., NY
Grandma Moses painting in Garden 1946 Photo: Ifor Thomas; Courtesy Galerie St. Etienne, New York. ©2020, Grandma Moses Properties Co., NY

First solo exhibition at 80, and continued painting until 100

Anna Mary Robertson Moses was born in eastern New York State on September 7, 1860. Most of her life was devoted to being a housewife at a farm. It was in her 70’s when her arthritis made it hard for her to hold a needle and continue her late year hobby of embroidered pictures, that she began painting instead. Moses’ paintings attracted a collector who happened to visit the village and were brought to New York City by him. The subjects of her paintings, such as “nature” and “everyday life” of New England and her naive approach to art and simple style had a broad appeal amongst people in the City and her first solo exhibition launched a career that eventually made her a widely famous artist. Numerous exhibitions were held both domestically and internationally and she even received an award from President Truman, yet, Moses’ fame did not change her simple farm life. By the time she died at the age of 101, Grandma Moses had completed over 1600 works of art.

Message to the Japanese People

In the middle of the last century, Grandma Moses (1860-1961) was one of the most famous and successful artists in America. Her cheerful landscapes gave comfort to a public traumatized by the recent horrors of World War II and just beginning to come to terms with the realities of the Cold War. Moses’s fame extended through Europe during her lifetime, but she did not become widely known in Japan until the 1980s. Like Americans and Europeans before them, the Japanese people warmly embraced Grandma Moses, because her values-the wisdom gathered over a long life, and the need to live in harmony with nature-resonated with their own.

The forthcoming exhibition will be the first Grandma Moses show in Japan since 2005. It comes at a time when the world is again in a state of great turmoil and much in need of Moses’ good cheer. Together with our partners at TOEI, we have selected some of the artist’s most iconic paintings, and offer them to you as a gesture of hope and in the firm belief that the “beautiful world” of Grandma Moses can still be found, if we just know where to look.

Jane Kallir, Director, Galerie St. Etienne, New York

photo by Julienne Schaer
photo by Julienne Schaer

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