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Discovering Jean Follett: From the East Side of St. Paul to New York City

June 26, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

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The East Side Freedom Library invites you to learn about a St. Paul artist whose work is just being unearthed, organized, analyzed and appreciated:

Discovering Jean Follett: From the East Side of St. Paul to New York City

Tuesday, June 26, 2018, 7:00pm

Jean Francis Follett (1917-1990) was a prominent American artist, highly respected by critics, curators and her peers. Follett was referenced time and again as extraordinary, and in terms of aesthetics, entirely self-directed. She studied with Cameron Booth at the St. Paul Gallery and School of Art in the late 1930s; and, after ​WWII,​ studied with Hans Hofmann at his school in New York City. ​With eleven other innovative artists, she co-founded ​an artist run gallery​ in New York in 1952, and remained an influential member of the New York art community through the mid 1960s. Follett was an experimenter with assemblage—she was referred to as a painter, but her works straddled the “nether” territory between collage and painting. The major exhibitions of the early sixties—​including ​The Art of Assemblage at the Museum of Modern Art in 1961, and Black, White and Grey at the Wadsworth Atheneum in 1964—included works by Follett. Returning to live in St. Paul in 1961, Follett’s career foundered, though she never stopped making work, and her work on paper is in the collections of the Minnesota Historical Society and the Walker Art Center. Her ideas and her career push against the prevailing taste in American art–most especially Pop Art–and remains mysterious, difficult to decipher even today. This talk will contextualize Follett’s achievement based on preliminary, primary research, and raise questions that still need to be answered about this fascinating artist and her era.

​This talk will be presented by Melissa Rachleff Burtt, Clinical Associate Professor of Arts Administration at New York University (and cousin of ESFL’s Peter Rachleff)​.  She has written extensively on the subject of photography, art, and art management. Her essay, “Do It Yourself: A History of Alternatives” was published in Alternative Histories: New York Art Spaces, 1960-2010, by MIT Press in 2012.  Her curated exhibit, Narrative and Counternarrative: (Re) Defining the 1960s, an exhibit that explores student life, arts and culture around Washington Square opened in January 2018.

Photo caption: Jean Follett in her NYC studio, c. 1953, courtesy of Charles Gallup

Free and open to all
East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier Street
info@eastsidefreedomlibrary.org and 651-230-3294


June 26, 2018
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Event Category:


East Side Freedom Library


East Side Freedom Library
1105 Greenbrier Street
St. Paul, MN 55106
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