For over two decades, African American artist Kara Walker has been making work that weaves together imagery from the antebellum South, the brutality of slavery, and racist stereotypes. Walker, one of the most prominent artists working today, emerged in the mid-1990s with incendiary, provocative works set in the past but that were very much about the present.
Eye Level is the blog of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery. Publishing behind-the-scenes museum stories since 2005.
As SAAM's new director, the opportunity to select banners that reflect the amazing strength and diversity of our collections was a treat. The banners help reflect on the outside the treasures on the inside of our building.
The Luce Foundation Center celebrates the art that we find in everyday life with Beyond the Studio Workshops. This new series will connect visitors with local professionals working in the arts and provide insight into the creative processes of local applied artists.
Beginning in the 1920s and into the next few decades, Thomas Wilfred was something of an art-world star, having fused modern art and pre-digital technology to create his luminous works.
Paul Rand, a 20th-century graphic designer and art director, was a master at combining elements of fine art and design. His hallmark style combined recognizable symbols, text, and humor to communicate clear messages in creative ways. His iconic logo designs for major firms such as IBM, UPS, NeXT Computer, and ABC transformed the way major companies created brand identity.
For many of us who don’t consider ourselves artists, being asked to draw on the spot can be a scary proposition. And what if you were then told you’d be doing it in front of a successful working artist? This June, teachers participating in SAAM's four-day summer institute, entitled Art, Inquiry, and Action, were asked to do just that in a hands-on workshop led by artist Manuel Acevedo. And what they took from it was both surprising and intriguing.
Luce Unplugged brings the DMV's best bands to perform in the museum for an evening of music and merriment. We'll kick off our fall lineup with the Baltimore-based band, Snakes on September 7. Snakes is a relatively new act, but they're already attracting attention for their "decadent rockabilly swagger." We sat down with guitarist and vocalist George Cessna for a quick chat about process, creativity, and what's up next for the band.
Helen B. Bechtel, independent curator and coordinator of the installation, Parallax Gap, fills us in on the relationship between architecture and American craft. Parallax Gap remains on display at the Renwick Gallery through February 11, 2018.
Luce Unplugged brings DC's best musical acts to the Smithsonian American Art Museum for an evening concert after a staff-led art talk. On Thursday, August 24, soul artist Aaron Abernathy takes a break from working on his current projects to perform a set at 6 p.m. Luce Unplugged is presented in collaboration with DC Music Download.
On view in our current exhibition at the Renwick Gallery, Peter Voulkos: The Breakthrough Years, are three of the artist's large-scale paintings: Blue Remington, Red Through Black #3, and Falling Red. Some people may be surprised to find paintings in Voulkos' oeuvre, but that's what makes their discovery (at least for me) all the more exciting.
If you have ever visited a centuries-old Roman church or an Islamic mosque, you may have glimpsed the role visual arts play in the beliefs, practices and narratives concerning the sacred. In the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Luce Foundation Center, three pieces of art provide a snapshot of the different ways art has connected individuals and community to spirituality.
This past weekend, SAAM celebrated all that is good about video games when it hosted its annual SAAM Arcade. Almost 20,000 attended the two-day event held in the museum's Kogod Courtyard and throughout the museum. This is the third year SAAM has held this event as part of an ongoing initiative to showcase video games as an important part of our visual culture as well as study at the museum.
Gene Kloss felt that immersion in nature was essential to the production of art. Her paintings and etchings were directly informed by nature and she couldn't conceive of making art any other way. "An artist must keep in close contact with nature... in order to produce a significant body of work," she said, and she was prepared to live by her words.
SAAM's current photography exhibition Down These Mean Streets: Community and Place in Urban Photography, explores the post-World War II changes taking place in cities across the country through the eyes of ten photographers who documented these transformations.
To celebrate Nam June Paik's birthday today, we're reposting former associate curator of film and media art, Michael Mansfield's post about our 2012 exhibition Nam June Paik: Global Visionary. Tonight, to share in the festivities, Barbara London, Yale University's media arts critic and MoMA's former associate curator in the department of media and performance art, will give a talk, "What's Technology Got to Do With It?" The talk starts at 5:30 p.m. in SAAM's MacMillan Education Center and is free.
Alma Thomas, a DC artist and influential painter, once said, "I've never bothered painting the ugly things in life...no. I wanted something beautiful you could sit down and look at." She dedicated her life to doing just that.
On Friday, July 14, escape the DC heat with a night full of jazz and rock-n-roll at our Summer Luce Unplugged Community Showcase featuring Irreversible Entanglements and Ian Svenonius.
SAAM is turning into a video game arcade! On Saturday, August 5 and Sunday, August 6, anyone can participate in game building workshops, hear musicians performing music inspired by classic Nintendo and Sega themes, and play more than 100 games.
Parallax Gap, an architecturally-inspired work now on view at SAAM's Renwick Gallery is suspended from the ceiling of the Grand Salon and runs the length of the room.