A Limitless Vision: The Collection of Audrey B. Heckler
Alongside works by Jean Dubuffet and Pablo Picasso
September 28 to November 18, 2017
A Limitless Vision: The Collection of Audrey B. Heckler is a survey of one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of outsider art. The exhibition will feature over 30 rare and important paintings, drawings, and sculptures from Audrey B. Heckler’s prestigious collection, many of which will be exhibited to the public for the first time. On view from September 28 to November 18, 2017, the show serves as a tribute to one of America's foremost art collectors, as well as an opportunity to discover the work of self-taught artists.
Heckler has shown an enduring curiosity, passion, and advocacy for outsider art since 1993, when she stumbled upon New York’s first Outsider Art Fair. “Outsider art spoke to me personally, and I was fascinated by the artists’ self-expression, storytelling, and biographies,” said Heckler, adding “It has its own resonance.” Heckler has since thoughtfully built an eclectic and encyclopedic collection that includes nearly five hundred works by two hundred self-taught artists from around the world. A native New Yorker, she lives in direct dialogue with her collection, all of which is displayed salon-style in both her Upper East Side apartment and home in upstate New York.
A Limitless Vision transports Heckler’s eye and the environment she has created to Sara Kay Gallery’s townhouse setting, resulting in a deeply personal display. The collection traces the development of outsider art from the 20th century to today. On view will be: work by celebrated American artists, such as Martín Ramírez, David Butler, and James Castle, as well European artists Adolf Wölfli, Augustin Lesage, and Aloise Corbaz. The works on display span a wide range of subject matter, materials, voices and visions. For example, the work of Bill Traylor, who began making art at age 85, exists as the largest known oeuvre by an artist born into slavery. Also on view will be one of the largest works created by British mediumistic artist Madge Gill, outside of Jean Dubuffet’s private collection, before it came into the possession of Lausanne, Switzerland’s Collection de l’Art Brut. The backgrounds of the featured artists range from a jazz saxophonist to a cigar roller to a bacteriologist, with each work bringing its own unique energy to the space.
Accompanying Heckler’s collection will be the work of Pablo Picasso and Jean Dubuffet, two artists that found inspiration in outsider art and helped to propel the genre. On view will be a unique cast by Dubuffet, as well as a selection of rare, hand-painted, unique ceramics by Picasso that remained a part of the artist’s personal collection throughout his lifetime.
Founded in 2017 by Sara Kay, Sara Kay Gallery presents genre-defying programming across a wide range of art historical periods and movements and places emphasis on supporting female artists. “I began my career at the American Folk Art Museum in New York,” said Kay. “This show is very much a reflection of my own background and expertise that spans many genres. It is a privilege and honor for me to bring Audrey's collection to the greater public.”
Audrey B. Heckler She serves on the boards of both the American Folk Art Museum and the Foundation for Self-Taught Artists in Philadelphia,Founder of the Foundation to Promote Self-Taught Art. In 2017, Rizzoli and the American Folk Art Museum published The Hidden Art, a comprehensive catalogue of Heckler’s collection.