Works on Paper

Media - 1999.80 - SAAM-1999.80_1 - 52092

Wayne Thiebaud, Neapolitan Meringue, 1986/1999, pastel over trial proof lithograph on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Warren Unna, Terry and Margaret Stent, and the Thiebaud Family, and museum purchase in honor of Nan Tucker McEvoy, 1999.80, © 1999, Paul Le Baron Thiebaud

Graphic arts comprise a large part of the museum’s collection, which reveals the central importance of works on paper for American artists, both as studies for creations in other media and as finished works of art. Artists in the collection range from nineteenth-century masters such as John James AudubonWinslow HomerJohn La Farge and Thomas Moran to twentieth-century greats Charles BurchfieldStuart Davis, and Edward Hopper to contemporary artists Wayne ThiebaudJennifer Bartlett, and April GornikSean Scully chose the Smithsonian American Art Museum as the sole U.S. repository of a master set of his prints from 1982 to the present.

From 2003-2004, the museum toured Graphic Masters: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, seventy-five rarely lent watercolors, pastels, and drawings from the 1860s through the 1990s. The 2011 exhibition Multiplicity, which also toured the U.S., featured eighty-three works from the museum's permanent collection by such outstanding contemporary artists as John BaldessariJohn CageVija CelminsChuck CloseR. Luke DuBoisSol LeWittBrice MardenJulie MehretuMartin PuryearSusan RothenbergKiki Smith, and Kara Walker.

Selected Works

Media - 2008.19.1.1 - SAAM-2008.19.1.1_1 - 70182
Alabama Loyalists Greeting the Federal Gun-Boats, from the…
offset lithograph and screenprint on paper
Not on view
Media - 2010.65.6 - SAAM-2010.65.6_1 - 73512
Color Bands
linocut on paper
Not on view
Media - 2008.9.6 - SAAM-2008.9.6_1 - 70616
#6, from the Untitled Press Series
lithograph on paper
Not on view
Media - 2006.23 - SAAM-2006.23_1 - 67812
Local Calm
sugar lift aquatint with color aquatint and spit bite aquatint, soft and hard ground etching, and engraving on Gampi paper chine collé
Not on view
Media - 1991.94.4 - SAAM-1991.94.4_1 - 11235
Mezzo Fist #1
mezzotint and chine colle on paper
Not on view
Media - 2004.32.5.6 - SAAM-2004.32.5.6A_1 - 68847
Seven Day Diary (Not Knowing), Day Six
color etching with hard and soft ground etching, drypoint, sugar aquatint, photo etching and found objects
Not on view
Media - 2004.6A-L - SAAM-2004.6A-L_1 - 75817
Banshee Pearls
twelve lithographs with aluminum leaf additions on handmade Japanese paper
Not on view
Media - 1999.80 - SAAM-1999.80_1 - 52092
Neapolitan Meringue
pastel over trial proof lithograph on paper
Not on view
Media - 2009.4.1 - SAAM-2009.4.1_1 - 70843
Night Sky
screenprint on paper
Not on view
Media - 2001.79.46 - SAAM-2001.79.46_1 - 51930
Black Red Blue
etching, aquatint, spit bite and sugarlift on paper
Not on view
Media - 2002.12.2.7 - SAAM-2002.12.2.7_1 - 72476
Bona, from the portfolio Cane
woodcut on paper
Not on view
Media - 1953.3.1 - SAAM-1953.3.1_1 - 1371
Cardinal Grosbeak
chalk, pencil, watercolor and ink on paper
Not on view
Media - 2000.53 - SAAM-2000.53_1 - 13628
Self Portrait
color screenprint on paper
Not on view
Media - 1992.43.13 - SAAM-1992.43.13_2 - 135843
Cake Window, from the book Delights
Date1964/published 1965
etching on paper
Not on view
Media - 1990.84 - SAAM-1990.84_1 - 52081
Storm and Fires
charcoal and pastel on paper
Not on view
Media - 1973.130.48 - SAAM-1973.130.48_1 - 46776
Old Pagoda
wood engraving on paper
Not on view
Media - 1973.122.71 - SAAM-1973.122.71_1 - 58822
(Old Castle and Trees)
Dateca. 1880-1890
etching on paper
Not on view
Media - 1968.156 - SAAM-1968.156_1 - 48067
The Cat Boat
etching on paper
Not on view
Media - 1974.50.1 - SAAM-1974.50.1_1 - 88299
lithograph on paper
Not on view
Media - 1979.159.53 - SAAM-1979.159.53_1 - 80128
Study for Swimmers Atlanta: Boat
watercolor, enamel, pen and ink, and pencil on paper
Not on view

Related Artists

John James Audubon
born Les Cayes, Haiti 1785-died New York City 1851
Media - J0001697_1b.jpg - 89277
Winslow Homer
born Boston, MA 1836-died Prout's Neck, ME 1910

Painter and graphic artist. Homer's illustrations of the Civil War for Harper's Weekly are singular and outstanding examples of wartime reporting.

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.

Media - J0001991_1b.jpg - 89335
Thomas Moran
born Bolton, England 1837-died Santa Barbara, CA 1926

Landscape painter. Influenced by J.M.W. Turner, Moran is best remembered for his idealized views of the American West.

Media - J0001324_1b.jpg - 87613
Charles Burchfield
born Ashtabula Harbor, OH 1893-died West Seneca, NY 1967

Modernist painter who celebrated nature in his watercolors. During his life, he often drew inspiration from his environs, which included small-town Salem, Ohio, and urban Buffalo, N.Y.

Media - J0001440_1b.jpg - 87632
Stuart Davis
born Philadelphia, PA 1892-died New York City 1964

Pioneer modernist painter who exhibited at the 1913 New York Armory Show. Davis believed that "a subject had its emotional reality," which could be gleaned through an awareness of geometric planes and spatial relationships.

Media - J0001707_1b.jpg - 89281
Edward Hopper
born Nyack, NY 1882-died New York City 1967

Realist painter who studied with Robert Henri and Kenneth Hayes Miller at the New York School of Art.

Media - portrait_image_113683.jpg - 90362
Wayne Thiebaud
born Mesa, AZ 1920-died Sacramento, CA 2021

Born in Mesa, Arizona, Wayne Thiebaud became one of the most well-known Pop artists in America. His iconic images of food may have stemmed from his beginnings as a freelance cartoonist in 1939.

Jennifer Bartlett
born Long Beach, CA 1941 - died Amagansett, NY 2022

Jennifer Bartlett is the daughter of a pipeline engineer and a fashion illustrator. In the late 1950s she attended Mills College, an unconventional school in Oakland, California, that encouraged experimentation and discouraged textbooks.

April Gornik
born Cleveland, OH 1953
Sean Scully
born Dublin, Ireland 1945

Scully was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1945 but was raised in London, where his family moved in 1949.

John Baldessari
born National City, CA 1931-died Los Angeles, CA 2020

John Baldessari was born in National City, on San Diego Bay in California in 1931. He enrolled at San Diego State College in 1949 and received his BA in painting in 1953. He also studied at Berkeley in 1953.

John Cage
born Los Angeles, CA 1912-died 1992
Vija Celmins
born Riga, Latvia 1939
Media - 2000.53 - SAAM-2000.53_1 - 13628
Chuck Close
born Monroe, WA 1940-died Oceanside, NY 2021

Chuck Close was born in Monroe, Washington, in 1940 and received a BA degree from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1962.

R. Luke DuBois
born Morristown, NJ 1975
Media - portrait_image_113298.jpg - 90214
Sol LeWitt
born Hartford, CT 1928-died New York City 2007

Sol LeWitt was a leader in the growth of conceptual art during the 1960s and 1970s. This was a reaction to the emotional qualities of abstract expressionism, and focused on the ideas behind the art as opposed to the actual objects.

Brice Marden
born Bronxville, NY 1938-died Tivoli, NY 2023
Julie Mehretu
born Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 1970
Martin Puryear
born Washington, DC 1941

One of the most important American sculptors working today, Martin Puryear (born 1941) is known for refined, handmade constructions, primarily in wood. Puryear's abstract forms, while evocative and familiar, elude specific or singular interpretations.

Susan Rothenberg
born Buffalo, NY 1945-died Galisteo, NM 2020
Kiki Smith
born Nuremberg, Germany 1954
Kara Walker
born Stockton, CA 1969