Cover: Designs on the Heart: The Homemade Art of Grandma Moses, from Harvard University PressCover: Designs on the Heart in HARDCOVER

Designs on the Heart

The Homemade Art of Grandma Moses

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Product Details


$38.00 • £30.95 • €34.00

ISBN 9780674022263

Publication Date: 05/29/2006


304 pages

8 x 9-1/4 inches

78 color illustrations, 16 halftones


To most Americans [Grandma Moses’s] art was real art, the genuine, accessible thing, as opposed to the Abstract Expressionist painting being promoted in certain quarters as the internationalist face of American culture in the 1950’s. It’s a little startling to revisit the art wars waged in the popular press of that era, as one can do in Designs on the Heart… Public battles over ‘highbrow’ versus ‘lowbrow’ had a heated, personal urgency rarely inspired by art today.—Holland Cotter, The New York Times

Asking Karal Ann Marling to write a catalogue for a museum exhibition…is a little like asking Jamie Oliver to fix a snack. That you will get anything less than a feast is unimaginable… Marling [is] a stunningly astute observer of American visual culture… Like the best works of cultural criticism, Designs on the Heart will leave the reader saying ‘Of course! How could I not have thought of this before, it’s so self-evidently true? And yet, I would never have asked these questions or connected these dots myself.’ And, like the best works of historical scholarship, it will leave readers asking new questions about our own cultural icons.—Lauren F. Winner, Books & Culture

Delightful. Marling’s book is neither a straight biography nor a coffeetable picture book. Rather, it is an affectionate analysis of the ‘Grandma’ phenomenon, albeit laced with plenty of photos, biographical stories and images of Moses’ art.—Mary Abbe, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune

In Designs on the Heart: The Homemade Art of Grandma Moses, Karal Ann Marling sets out to explain Grandma Moses’ continuing status as an American icon and her art’s eternal popularity. The book contains photos of Moses and her environs, as well as plenty of color plates of her work.—Jay Strafford, The Richmond Times-Dispatch

How Grandma Moses was discovered in the village of Hoosick Falls, New York, and how she went on to become a worldwide cultural phenomenon are questions answered in an extraordinary and compelling story revealed in Karal Ann Marling’s new book, Designs on the Heart: The Homemade Art of Grandma Moses.—Peter McLaughlin, Berkshire Living

Karal Ann Marling has long provided astute and sympathetic commentary on diverse facets of American popular culture. Designs on the Heart continues in this vein: a great read full of interesting insights about an American artist that we all really ‘know’ but really don’t know much about. Grandma Moses remains an icon of American art today, and Karal Ann Marling’s new book helps explain why.—Erika Doss, Professor of Art History, University of Colorado, and author of Spirit Poles and Flying Pigs: Public Art and Cultural Democracy in American Communities

It is no mean feat to recast a national icon in a new light, but Karal Ann Marling manages to do so. Marling’s text is a provocative delight—lively, insightful, and mercifully free of jargon. It is an important contribution to the appreciation of a singular artistic personality; equally significant, it provides new illumination to a telling episode in American taste. Students of both art history and American Studies—as well as the legions of Grandma Moses admirers—should find it a valuable addition to the literature. This is the way art history ought to be written. Another Marling triumph.—Charles C. Eldredge, Hall Distinguished Professor of American Art and Culture, University of Kansas, and author of Georgia O’Keeffe: American and Modern

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