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Drawing on America’s Past: Folk Art, Modernism, and the Index of American Design

Virginia Tuttle Clayton, Elizabeth Stillinger, Erika Doss, and Deborah Chotner
Published 2002
264 pages

This publication celebrated the 60th anniversary of the acquisition by the National Gallery of Art of the Index of American Design, a collection of more than 18,000 watercolor renderings of American folk, popular, and decorative art. An accompanying exhibition featured about 80 Index renderings, nearly half of which were reunited with the actual artifacts they portray for the first time since the project’s duration from 1935 to 1942. Three essays examine the organization and day-to-day functioning of the Index, its relationship to American art between the two World Wars, and the role it played in forming our present notions of what is “American” in American art. Entries contribute up-to-date information about the works of art depicted in the Index. The catalog also includes biographies of the artists and an annotated list of state projects.

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