An exhibition on view at the American Folk Art Museum, New York City, from March 26th through July 5th, 2015, will explore enactment, a potent aspect of self-taught art and art brut which reveals the aesthetic virtue of the intangible as opposed to the product or object. When the Curtain Never Comes Down will explore performance art by the self-taught, documenting the practices of some 27 artists from around the world (alive and deceased), spotlighting the ceremonies, rituals, and other expressive gestures and actions in which they engage. More than 275 works will be exhibited in a variety of media, including handmade clothing and costumes; mobile sculptures; ephemeral installations; photographs, video, and sound; fragments of ever-changing constructions involving movement, storytelling, and songs; and other components such as drawings, handmade books, jewelry, and mixed media instruments.

An illustrated publication, with an introductory essay by American Folk Art Museum curator of self-taught art and art brut Dr. Valérie Rousseau—the curator of the exhibition—will be available in the Museum Shop in late March.

Commented Dr. Anne-Imelda Radice, Executive Director: “The American Folk Art Museum continues its long history of introducing and championing art that is overlooked by larger and more mainstream museums. This is our niche. When the Curtain Never Comes Down advances this mission by displaying unparalleled and original scholarship as well as rarely exhibited documentation and forms of art.”

Performance art has become an acclaimed aspect of mainstream culture and a staple of museums worldwide. The embodiments and actions of self-taught artists, however, are just now coming to the fore as a result of increased attention to non-academic art in general. When the Curtain Never Comes Down is the first museum exhibition to survey these works under the umbrella term “performance art.”

A publication titled When the Curtain Never Comes Down: Performance Art and the Alter Ego (American Folk Art Museum, 2015) will be available at the American Folk Art Museum Shop and online ( in late March. It includes a foreword by Dr. Anne-Imelda Radice, Director, American Folk Art Museum, and an essay and texts by Dr. Rousseau, as well as the editorial contributions of Savine Faupin, Curator in Chief, LaM - Musée Art Moderne, Art Contemporain, Art Brut, Villeneuve d’Ascq, Lille; Thomas J. Lax, Associate Curator in the Department of Media and Performance Art at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Hans Ulrich Obrist, co-director, Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects, Serpentine Galleries, London; Michel Thévoz, former director, Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne; and other scholars, curators, and collectors working around the world.