Contemporary Craft and Decorative Arts

Media - 2016.11 - SAAM-2016.11_6 - 124929

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 by 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

Media - 2012.34A-B - SAAM-2012.34A-B_1 - 81721
mixed media
Not on view
Media - 2012.36 - SAAM-2012.36_1 - 79885
Black and Grey Toaster
vinyl, copper wire and thread
On view
Media - 1975.117.1A-B - SAAM-1975.117.1A-B_2 - 116882
Portal Gates
steel, brass, copper, and bronze
Not on view
Media - 2015.10 - SAAM-2015.10_1 - 117691
Cut, Flamed, Spalted
Not on view
Media - 1989.68 - SAAM-1989.68_2 - 118457
Ghost Clock
bleached Honduras mahogany
Not on view
Media - 2011.6 - SAAM-2011.6_1 - 74049
Not on view
Media - 2011.22A-C - SAAM-2011.22A-C_1 - 76568
Tureen for Risotto alla Pescatore”
sterling silver and sodalite
Not on view
Media - 2011.47.76 - SAAM-2011.47.76_2 - 88849
Gullah Fanner Basket
sweetgrass, bulrush, pine needles, and palmetto fronds
Not on view
Media - 2011.32 - SAAM-2011.32_4 - 119410
white oak and bamboo
Not on view
Media - 2014.12.13 - SAAM-2014.12.13_1 - 92316
earthenware and acrylic paint
Not on view
Media - 2015.28.2 - SAAM-2015.28.2_1 - 119036
Shoal (Bone Shoal Sonance)
limba and shedua
Not on view
Media - 2014.45 - SAAM-2014.45_1 - 119296
The Family Reunion
14k gold and sterling silver plating, copper, brass mesh, onyx, acrylic, and resin with cast photographs and scorpions
Not on view
Media - 2012.18 - SAAM-2012.18_1 - 80106
Tea for One
sterling silver and mahogany
Not on view
Media - 2012.7A-GG - SAAM-2012.7_5 - 116892
Spinning Wheel
glass, cocobolo, steel, brass, and leather
Not on view
Media - 2011.54.3 - SAAM-2011.54.3_1 - 80094
Green Balance
Mi-Teintes watercolor paper
Not on view
Media - 2012.20 - SAAM-2012.20_1 - 80109
Not on view
Media - 1968.7.2 - SAAM-1968.7.2_1 - 3055
Not on view
Media - 2013.77A-C - SAAM-2013.77A-C_1 - 118522
The Craftsman Series: Shovels
pennies, brass, silver, and copper
Not on view
Media - 2013.9 - SAAM-2013.9_4 - 119419
Curtains and Balcony Bracelet
33% glass-filled polyamide
Not on view
Media - 1991.124 - SAAM-1991.124_2 - 118464
Oval Bowl
earthenware and chartreuse glaze
Not on view
Media - 1983.79 - SAAM-1983.79_2 - 115897
Rocking Pot
stoneware with colemanite wash
Not on view
Media - 1985.70 - SAAM-1985.70_2 - 119022
Opalescent Red Crown
Not on view

Related Artists

Media - portrait_image_113283.jpg - 90201
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.

Media - portrait_image_113705.jpg - 90398
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.

Media - portrait_image_113399.jpg - 90238
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.

Media - portrait_image_113293.jpg - 90208
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.

Media - paley_albert.jpg - 90107
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.

Media - J0001833_1b.jpg - 89300
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.