Enfilade

Exhibition | Drawn with Spirit: Pennsylvania German Fraktur

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on May 6, 2015

The exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art closed last week; the catalogue is distributed by Yale UP:

Lisa Minardi, with an interview by Ann Percy, Drawn with Spirit: Pennsylvania German Fraktur from the Joan and Victor Johnson Collection (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015), 364 pages, ISBN: 978-0300210521, $65.

9780300210521Among the most beloved forms of American folk art, fraktur is a Germanic tradition of decorated manuscripts and printed documents noted for its use of bold colors and whimsical motifs. This publication makes a landmark contribution to the study of Pennsylvania German fraktur, and offers the most comprehensive study of the topic in over 50 years. The featured objects, most of which have never been published, accompany significant new information about the artists who made these works and the people who owned them. An introductory essay sets the renowned Johnson Collection within the context of collecting and scholarship on Pennsylvania German folk art and then highlights major new discoveries, including connections between fraktur and related examples of furniture and prints. An interview with the collectors offers valuable insights into the formation of this special group of objects, which includes birth and baptismal certificates, bookplates, religious texts, writing samples, house blessings, cutworks, and printed broadsides. The splendid color illustrations reveal schools of artistic and regional influence, giving a nuanced understanding of how artists took inspiration from one another and how designs were transferred to new locations. Detailed catalogue entries include extensive information about each piece as well as complete translations.

Lisa Minardi is an assistant curator at Winterthur Museum and a specialist in Pennsylvania German art and culture.

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