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Curator Talk | Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered

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Join Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor in Art History at Stanford, Richard Meyer, for a tour of our special exhibition: Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered

Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered reintroduces a singular self-taught artist to contemporary audiences. A Jewish immigrant, tailor, and slipper manufacturer in Brooklyn who took up painting at the age of 65, Morris Hirshfield (1872–1946) attracted a great degree of attention during his brief career as an artist.

His wildly stylized pictures of animals, landscapes, and often nude female figures were embraced by the international avant garde, including Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondrian, collected by Peggy Guggenheim, and featured in a highly-publicized solo show at The Museum of Modern Art in 1943. Yet, the artist was dismissed in the press as an unschooled amateur and mocked as the “Master of the Two Left Feet” for his tendency to display the female body in an unorthodox fashion. This exhibition will showcase Hirshfield’s imaginative, vibrantly patterned paintings. As New Yorker writer Andrea K. Scott described them: “His subjects are ornamental, so highly stylized—static, hypnotic—that paint on canvas performs as beads, trim, and pompoms once did on his patented slippers, a delightful selection of which have been re-created for the exhibition.” The exhibition at the Cantor will feature Surrealist artists that Hirshfield was exhibited alongside in New York, such as Yves Tanguy, Kay Sage, and Leonora Carrington, and a section devoted to self-taught artists such as John Kane, Hector Hippolyte, and Grandma Moses.

If you need a disability-related accommodation like ASL, please contact We ask that requests be made at least one week in advance of the event date.

Free curator talk reservations here.

Advance registrations to the museum are not required, but we want to improve our experience. Learn more here

Image: Morris Hirshfield, Birds on the Grass, II, 1944. Oil on canvas. Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University, Gift of Maria and Conrad Janis Estate. © 2023 Robert and Gail Rentzer for Estate of Morris Hirshfield / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Photograph by Melissa Goodwin, courtesy Pace Gallery

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