Jean Lipman


Lipman began collecting American folk art in 1936 to furnish a country home in Connecticut, but her interest in the subject almost immediately turned into a scholarly pursuit.Her first book, American Primitive Painting, was published in 1942, to be followed in 1948 by another trailblazing work, American Folk Art in Wood, Metal, and Stone. A pioneer in fostering the study of American folk art, Lipman remained a passionate advocate of the subject for sixty years.Born in Manhattan as Jean Herzberg, Lipman received an M.A. in art history from New York University, her thesis devoted to a group of Florentine profile portraits. Her husband, Howard Lipman (1905–1992), an investment banker and sculptor, shared her interests. In 1938 Lipman became associate editor, and in 1940,editor, of Art in America, a position she held until 1971. Although the publication embraced the entire field of American art, Lipman regularly opened its pages to newscholarship on American folk art.The Lipmans sold their collection of American folk art to Stephen Clark of the New York State Historical Association at Cooperstown, New York, in 1950, butLipman nevertheless remained committed to the subject. She continued to research and write in the field, publishing studies on folk painting with Alice Winchester (1907–1996), editor of The Magazine An-tiques (1950); and with Mary C.Black (1923–1992), director of the American Folk Art Museum (1966); and she alsowrote monographs about the artists Rufus Porter (1792–1884), in 1968, and Jurgan Frederick Huge (1809–1878), in 1973. Moreover, the Lipmans also began building a second collection of American folk art, which they sold to the American Folk Art Museum in 1981.In addition, the Lipmans shared an interest in modern American sculpture; they collected works by Alexander Calder (1898–1976), Don Judd, Louise Nevelson(1899–1988), and David Smith (1906–1965), among others, which they later gave to the Whitney Museum of American Art. Lipman published nearly as extensivelyon this subject as she did in the field of American folk art. Her 1975 book, Provocative Parallels: Naïve Early Americans/International Sophisticates, demonstrated the remarkable visual parallels between her fields of interest.In 1974 Lipman organized a widely influential exhibition at the Whitney Museum and was co-author with Alice Winchester of the accompanying book, The Flowering of American Folk Art . In 1980 she and the museum’s director, Thomas N.Armstrong, coedited American Folk Painters of Three Centuries, to document an important exhibition by that name. Two other significant exhibitions and publications followed— Young America: A Folk Art History, in 1986, and FiveStar Folk Art, in 1990.In addition to her other pursuits, Lipman was a visual artist. Her paintings and collages, many inspired by works of American folk art, were exhibited in severalmuseum and gallery shows beginning in 1981. Maintaining an active and richly creative schedule until the end of her long life, Lipman died 1998 at her home in Carefree, Arizona.