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Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered

Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered

September 6, 2023–January 21, 2024

an image of a couch and a woman with two birds

Morris Hirshfield, Girl with Pigeons, 1942. Oil on canvas. The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection, 1969, 610.1967. © 2023 Robert and Gail Rentzer for Estate of Morris Hirshfield / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

Freidenrich Family Gallery (221)


Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered reintroduces a singular self-taught artist to contemporary audiences. A Jewish immigrant, tailor, and slipper manufacturer in Brooklyn who took up painting at the age of 65, Morris Hirshfield (1872–1946) attracted a great degree of attention during his brief career as an artist.

His wildly stylized pictures of animals, landscapes, and often nude female figures were embraced by the international avant garde, including Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondrian, collected by Peggy Guggenheim, and featured in a highly-publicized solo show at The Museum of Modern Art in 1943. Yet, the artist was dismissed in the press as an unschooled amateur and mocked as the “Master of the Two Left Feet” for his tendency to display the female body in an unorthodox fashion. This exhibition will showcase Hirshfield’s imaginative, vibrantly patterned paintings. As New Yorker writer Andrea K. Scott described them: “His subjects are ornamental, so highly stylized—static, hypnotic—that paint on canvas performs as beads, trim, and pompoms once did on his patented slippers, a delightful selection of which have been re-created for the exhibition.” The exhibition at the Cantor will feature Surrealist artists that Hirshfield was exhibited alongside in New York, such as Yves Tanguy, Kay Sage, and Leonora Carrington, and a section devoted to self-taught artists such as John Kane, Hector Hippolyte, and Grandma Moses.

The exhibition, described by the New York Times as “extravagantly orchestrated” and “one of the season’s best” is curated by Richard Meyer, Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor in Art History at Stanford University and is organized by the American Folk Art Museum. The exhibition’s accompanying monograph by Richard Meyer, Master of the Two Left Feet: Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered (winner of the 2023 Dedalus Foundation Exhibition Catalogue Award) will be available to purchase at the Museum and the Stanford University Bookstore.


Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered is organized by the American Folk Art Museum (AFAM), New York, and curated by Richard Meyer, Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor of Art History at Stanford University. Major support to date provided by Pamela and David Hornik and the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation.


Virtual Tour

Discover Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered through this virtual tour and available publication.


Upcoming/Past Programs

Morris Hirshfield: A Personal View

Thursday, 9/28/23, 6pm | Cantor Arts Center Auditorium

Join Hirshfield’s grandson Robert Dennis Rentzer and exhibition curator Richard Meyer for an hour of remembrances and stories, including the surprising tale of the artwork (Dog and Pups) that the five-year-old “Dennis” (the middle name his older sister insisted he be known as) asked his grandfather to paint for him.


Threading History: Jewish Americans and the Garment Industry

Thursday, 11/9/23; 12:30pm | Oshman Hall, McMurtry Building

Please join us for this enriching afternoon of art and history as we explore Jewish American immigration in the early 20th century through the lens of garment industry labor in New York City.


Curator Talk | Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered

Thursday, 11/16/23, 12:30pm | Freidenrich Family Gallery

Join Robert and Ruth Halperin Professor in Art History at Stanford, Richard Meyer, for a tour of our special exhibition: Morris Hirshfield Rediscovered





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The Cantor is open to the public, Wednesdays–Sundays 11:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. We’re always free. Advance registration is not required, but it helps us plan if we know who's coming.

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The Cantor Arts Center is located at the intersection of Museum Way and Lomita Drive in the heart of the arts district on the Stanford campus. The Cantor faces the Bing Concert Hall across Palm Drive, northwest of The Oval and the Main Quad.

328 Lomita Drive at Museum Way
Stanford, CA 94305-5060

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