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Smithsonian American Art Museum Establishes the Clarice Smith Distinguished Lectures in American Art

Media only: Laura Baptiste (202) 275-1595
Media Web site:
Public only: (202) 633-1000

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has established the Clarice Smith Distinguished Lectures in American Art that will begin this fall. The goal of these lectures is to present new insights in American art from the perspectives of the finest artists, critics and scholars. This annual series is made possible by the generosity of Clarice Smith.

"As the Smithsonian American Art Museum prepares for re-opening in 2006, we are delighted to present this new forum for engaging the public in the creative experience and what American art is today," said Elizabeth Broun, the museum's Margaret and Terry Stent Director. "Clarice Smith knows the joys of art as both a painter and collector and her generosity grants the museum an exciting programming opportunity."

"Education is a fundamental part of the museum's mission and I believe these lectures will be a catalyst for a variety of discussions about art and the creative process," said Smith. "By bringing in successful artists, historians and critics, the public will have the opportunity to benefit from their knowledge and experience." She has served on the museum's Board of Commissioners since 2003.

The speakers for the inaugural 2004 series are:

  • Peter Schjeldahl, art critic for The New Yorker, on Wednesday, Sept. 22

  • Pat Steir, painter and printmaker, on Wednesday, Oct. 13

  • Alexander Nemerov, art history professor at Yale University, on Wednesday, Nov. 10

The series debuts on September 22 with Peter Schjeldahl who will offer his take on "What Art Is for Now." As chief art critic at The New Yorker, Schjeldahl has spent almost fifteen years thinking and writing about the art world. He has published many essays, some of which have been collected in The Hydrogen Jukebox: Selected Writings 1978–1990, as well as six volumes of poetry. He has received a Guggenheim Foundation grant and the Frank Jewett Mather Award for distinguished art criticism.

Artist Pat Steir will give the second lecture on October 13 in which she will examine the inevitable connections between art and the period in which it is created. Steir, a painter and printmaker, has been creating and exhibiting her dynamic form of abstraction since the 1970s. She has received a Guggenheim Artist Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts grant and her work can be found in major museum collections around the world.

The 2004 series will conclude with scholar Alexander Nemerov on November 10, when his illustrated lecture will capture "Childhood Imagination: The Case of N. C. Wyeth and Robert Louis Stevenson." Nemerov is professor of art history at Yale University and has written on a broad range of subjects, including the books Frederic Remington and Turn-of-the-Century America and The Body of Raphaelle Peale: Still Life and Selfhood, 1812–1824.

The 2004 series will be held at the George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium. The auditorium is located at 731 21st Street NW (at the corner of 21st and H streets) and is near the Foggy Bottom Metrorail station (Orange and Blue lines). All lectures begin at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a reception. Registration is required for these free lectures. To register, email AmericanArtprograms[at] or call (202) 275-2312.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum collection began with gifts of art donated to the federal government in 1829 and has evolved into the world's most important American art holdings with approximately 40,000 artworks in all media spanning more than three centuries. While the renovation of the museum's historic building continues, American Art offers a full program of exhibitions at its Renwick Gallery, located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W., near the Farragut North (Red line) and Farragut West (Blue and Orange lines) Metrorail stations. Museum hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Admission is free. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000; (202) 357-1729 (TTY). Recorded information: (202) 275-1500. Visit the museum's award winning Web site at