Contemporary Craft and Decorative Arts

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Debra Baxter, Devil Horns Crystal Brass Knuckles (Lefty), 2015, quartz crystal and sterling silver, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist in honor of Joanna and David Baxter, 2016.11, © 2015, Debra Baxter. Photo: Kim Richardson

The museum’s collection of contemporary American craft is considered one of the finest in the United States.

Major works by well-established craft masters, such as Wendell CastleDale ChihulyRobert EbendorfDavid EllsworthSheila HicksKaren LaMonteBeth LipmanSam Maloof, and Albert Paley, as well as objects by up-and-coming artists, are featured. Jewelry, studio furniture, and wood art make up a significant part of the collection. A longtime favorite among Renwick visitors is Larry Fuente’s Game Fish, an assemblage of game pieces in the form of a trophy fish.

Decorative arts in the collection range from the colonial period to the Gilded Age and beyond. Highlights include gorgeous stained glass windows by John La Farge and a commemorative piano decorated by Thomas Wilmer Dewing, originally presented by Steinway & Sons to the White House.

View the online bookstore for more books on Contemporary Craft and Decorative Arts.

Selected Works

Tanya Aguiñiga, Metabolizing the Border, 2018-2020, Performance. Unique objects worn by artist/performer (glass, neoprene, rusted metal fragments of U.S./Mexico border fence, leather, cotton twine, flashlight) and photodocumentation of the performance (digital files), Smithsonian American Art Museum, Joint museum purchase with the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum through the American Women's History Initiative Acquisitions Pool, administered by the Smithsonian American Women's History Initiative, 2022.31.1.1-.10
Metabolizing the Border
Date2018-2020
Performance. Unique objects worn by artist/performer (glass, neoprene, rusted metal fragments of U.S./Mexico border fence, leather, cotton twine, flashlight) and photodocumentation of the performance (digital files)
Not on view
Corey Alston, From Traditional to Contemporary, 2021, sweetgrass, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Carolyn L. Mazloomi, 2022.6
From Traditional to Contemporary
Date2021
sweetgrass
On view
Bisa Butler, Don't Tread on Me, God Damn, Let's Go! - The Harlem Hellfighters, 2021, cottons, silk, wool, and velvet, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of David Bonderman, 2022.25, © 2022, Bisa Butler
Don’t Tread on Me, God Damn, Let’s Go! — The Harlem…
Date2021
cottons, silk, wool, and velvet
Not on view
Margarita Cabrera, Black and Grey Toaster, 2011, vinyl, copper wire and thread, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Frank K. Ribelin Endowment, 2012.36, © 2011, Margarita Cabrera
Black and Grey Toaster
Date2011
vinyl, copper wire and thread
Not on view
Wendell Castle, Ghost Clock, 1985, bleached Honduras mahogany, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program, 1989.68, © 1985, Wendell Castle
Ghost Clock
Date1985
bleached Honduras mahogany
Not on view
Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2010, fabric, beads, and sequins, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Fleur S. Bresler, 2021.48.1, © Nick Cave. Photo by James Prinz Photography. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
Soundsuit
Date2010
fabric, beads, and sequins
Not on view
Sonya Clark, Monumental, 2019, woven linen with madder dye and tea stain, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the American Women's History Initiative Acquisitions Pool, administered by the Smithsonian American Women's History Initiative, the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment, and the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund, 2022.13, © 2019, Sonya Y.S. Clark
Monumental
Date2019
woven linen with madder dye and tea stain
Not on view
Einar De La Torre, Jamex De La Torre, Ohio Goza y Mas, 2013, blown glass, resin castings, and mixed media, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Todd Wingate and Steven Cason, courtesy of the artists and Koplin Del Rio Gallery, 2021.84
Ohio Goza y Mas
Date2013
blown glass, resin castings, and mixed media
On view
J. Paul Fennell, Untitled Vessel, 2004, carob, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Jeffrey Bernstein, M.D. and Judith Chernoff, M.D., 2021.66.13
Untitled Vessel
Date2004
carob
Not on view
Shan Goshorn, Song of Sorrow, 2015, ink and acrylic paint on watercolor paper splints, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund, 2021.32, © 2021, Thomas Pendergraft
Song of Sorrow
Date2015
ink and acrylic paint on watercolor paper splints
Not on view
Harlan Reano, Lisa Holt, Untitled pot, 2021, natural clay with acrylic paint, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Howard Kottler Endowment for Ceramic Art, 2021.96
Untitled pot
Date2021
natural clay with acrylic paint
On view
Katie Hudnall, Nut Case, 2019, reclaimed wood, found hardware and fasteners, industrial felt, 178 acorns, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund, 2021.21, © 2019, Catherine Hudnall
Nut Case
Date2019
reclaimed wood, found hardware and fasteners, industrial felt, 178 acorns
Not on view
Harvey K. Littleton, Opalescent Red Crown, 1983, glass, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible in part by Mr. and Mrs. R. Philip Hanes, Jr., Victor Gross, Joseph Davenport, Jr., John Hauberg, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Judelson, Mr. Samuel Johnson, and Edward Elson, 1985.70
Opalescent Red Crown
Date1983
glass
Not on view
Roberto Lugo, Juicy, 2021, glazed stoneware, enamel paint, luster, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the James Renwick Alliance in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Renwick Gallery and the 40th anniversary of the Alliance, 2021.68, © 2020, Roberto Lugo
Juicy
Date2021
glazed stoneware, enamel paint, luster
On view
Sebastian Martorana, Impressions, 2008, marble, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Patricia A. Young in honor of the fortieth anniversary of the Renwick Gallery and the thirtieth anniversary of the James Renwick Alliance, 2012.20, © 2008, Sebastian Martorana
Impressions
Date2008
marble
Not on view
George Nakashima, Conoid Bench, 1977, black walnut and hickory, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Warren D. Brill, 1991.121
Conoid Bench
Date1977
black walnut and hickory
Not on view
Virgil Ortiz, Pueblo Revolt 2180, 2018-2019, white bentonite clay with bee-weed (spinach) paint, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund, 2022.54, © 2016, Virgil Ortiz
Pueblo Revolt 2180
Date2018-2019
white bentonite clay with bee-weed (spinach) paint
Not on view
Jane Osti, Tall squash pot, 2020, clay, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Richard T. Evans Fund, 2020.63, © 2020, Jane Osti
Tall squash pot
Date2020
clay
On view
Albert Paley, Portal Gates, 1974, steel, brass, copper, and bronze, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Commissioned for the Renwick Gallery, 1975.117.1A-B
Portal Gates
Date1974
steel, brass, copper, and bronze
Not on view
Joyce Scott, Africa, ca. 1980, glass beads on synthetic thread, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Eleanor T. and Samuel J. Rosenfeld in honor of Kenneth R. Trapp, curator-in-charge of the Renwick Gallery (1995--2003), 2003.58, © ca. 1980, Joyce Scott
Africa
Dateca. 1980
glass beads on synthetic thread
Not on view
Kay Sekimachi, Leaf Vessel, ca. 2012, big-leaf maple leaf, kōzo paper, watercolor, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Fleur S. Bresler, 2021.48.4
Leaf Vessel
Dateca. 2012
big-leaf maple leaf, kōzo paper, watercolor
Not on view
Preston Singletary, Safe Journey, 2021, cast and sand-carved glass on wooden pedestal, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the James Renwick Alliance in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Renwick Gallery and the 40th anniversary of the alliance, and museum purchase through the Kenneth R. Trapp Acquisition Fund, 2021.82A-C, © 2021, Preston Singletary
Safe Journey
Date2021
cast and sand-carved glass on wooden pedestal
On view
Lino Tagliapietra, Mandara, 2005, glass, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible by the American Art Forum, 2011.6, © 2005, Lino Tagliapietra, Inc.
Mandara
Date2005
glass
Not on view
Peter Voulkos, Rocking Pot, 1956, stoneware with colemanite wash, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the James Renwick Alliance and various donors and museum purchase, 1983.79
Rocking Pot
Date1956
stoneware with colemanite wash
Not on view
Patti Warashina, Convertible Car Kiln, ca. 1971, earthenware, gold and silver luster glaze, and Plexiglas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the James Renwick Alliance, 1994.37.1, © Patti Warashina
Convertible Car Kiln
Dateca. 1971
earthenware, gold and silver luster glaze, and Plexiglas
Not on view
Stacey Lee Webber, The Craftsman Series: Shovels, 2011, pennies, brass, silver, and copper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible by the Clare Brackett Morison Bequest in memory of Philip Fike and museum purchase through the Richard T. Evans Fund, 2013.77A-C
The Craftsman Series: Shovels
Date2011
pennies, brass, silver, and copper
Not on view
Nancy Lee Worden, The Family Reunion, 2012, 14k gold and sterling silver plating, copper, brass mesh, onyx, acrylic, and resin with cast photographs and scorpions, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Richard T. Evans Fund and gift of Clemmer Montague, 2014.45, © 2012, Nancy Lee Worden
The Family Reunion
Date2012
14k gold and sterling silver plating, copper, brass mesh, onyx, acrylic, and resin with cast photographs and scorpions
Not on view
Lynette Youson, Gullah Fanner Basket, 2002, sweetgrass, bulrush, pine needles, and palmetto fronds, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Martha G. Ware and Steven R. Cole, 2011.47.76
Gullah Fanner Basket
Date2002
sweetgrass, bulrush, pine needles, and palmetto fronds
Not on view
Wanxin Zhang, Warrior with Color Face, 2009, high-fired clay with glaze, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of David and Pamela Hornik, 2021.72
Warrior with Color Face
Date2009
high-fired clay with glaze
On view

Related Artists

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Wendell Castle
born Emporia, KS 1932-died Scottsville, NY 2018

Born in Emporia, Kansas, Wendell Castle earned a B.F.A. degree in sculpture in 1958 and an M.F.A. in industrial design in 1961 at the University of Kansas.

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Dale Chihuly
born Tacoma, WA 1941

Born in Tacoma, Washington, Dale Chihuly studied with Harvey Littleton, founder of the studio glass movement, at the University of Wisconsin and received an M.F.A. degree from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1968.

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Robert Ebendorf
born Topeka, KS 1938

An eclectic jeweler and metalsmith, Robert Ebendorf was born in Topeka, Kansas. He earned a B.F.A. degree in 1958 and an M.F.A. in 1963 at the University of Kansas.

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David Ellsworth
born Iowa City, IA 1944

David Ellsworth received his MFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1973. Eight years earlier, he had studied architecture for a year at Washington University, St. Louis.

Sheila Hicks
born Hastings, NE 1934
Karen LaMonte
born New York City 1967
Beth Lipman
born Philadelphia, PA 1971

Glass artist Beth Lipman is renowned for her sculptural compositions which recreate the bounty and visual sumptuousness of Renaissance and Baroque still-life paintings, particularly 17th-century Dutch scenes.

Sam Maloof
born Chino, CA 1916-died Rancho Cucamonga, CA 2009

Born in Chino, California, Sam Maloof is a 1934 graduate of Chino High School. He worked as a graphic artist before being encouraged by his wife to pursue woodworking.

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Albert Paley
born Philadelphia, PA 1944

Albert Paley earned B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees at Tyler School of Art, Temple University, in 1966 and 1969 respectively.

Larry Fuente
born Chicago, IL 1947

Born in Chicago, Larry Fuente studied at the Kansas City Art Institute from 1967 to 1968, after which he followed friends to California.

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John La Farge
born New York City 1835-died Providence, RI 1910

Painter, stained glass designer. Among his many commissions, decoration of the Trinity Church in Boston placed La Farge at the forefront of the American Arts and Crafts movement.

Thomas Wilmer Dewing
born Boston, MA 1851-died New York City 1938

Born in Boston, studied in Paris, settled in New York City.