In This Case: Hey Tambourine Girl
July 23, 2013
What's the story behind the girl of this sculpture? Who was she? We aren't sure exactly because very little is known about the artist, Ed Davis, who inscribed his name along with the year, 1935, on the front of the sculpture's wooden base. All we know is that Mr. Davis was active in New York in the 1930s. Like much of the American Art Museum's folk art pieces, this one came into the collection through a gift by folk art collector Herbert Waide Hemphill, Jr. in 1986. Girl with Tambourine was done in a style similar to the artist Elie Nadelman who was known for using curved lines and simplified volumes. Nadelman found inspiration for his work in movies, jazz, and vaudeville as well as in his own collection of American folk art which was on view in Riverdale, New York for eleven years starting in 1926.
With the American Art Museum's folk art collection on view or easily searchable on our website, we're hoping that one of you might be able to shed some light on the artist or know someone who can. Maybe the artist was your great grandfather or second cousin, once removed. This actually happened! An intern for the Museum, Hayley Plack, stumbled upon an artwork by her great uncle. She had known he was an artist, but was unaware his work was at this museum until she started her internship here.
By putting Girl with Tambourine in the spotlight, it's possible that someone like Hayley could recognize her or the artist himself. Do you? And if not, her mystery will live on, and that's okay, too.
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