Black Friday Art Browsing

Not to be shady, but sometimes the cure for Black Friday stress is art

It’s Black Friday, and our minds and feeds are full of messages about deals, discounts, and warnings about supply chains and shipping deadlines. If your eyes and wallets could use a break, allow us to take you on a diverting tour of American art, where everything is the same shade (black) and we weave between black humor, sincere awe, and puns.

Is your mind spinning out of control? Too many choices, too many lists? Focus those peepers on this winged bowl and imagine it spinning around, about to take flight. There. Feeling a bit more focused? No? Now you’re feeling anxious about a flying ceramic UFO? 

Media - 1981.21 - SAAM-1981.21_1 - 69488
Elsa Rady, Two Wing Black Matte Bowl, 1979, wheel-thrown, carved, and glazed porcelain with black matte glaze, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Jill I. Cole


The beautiful black box-shaped work is truly a gift. Imagine finding a “Leaf” like this under your tree.

Media - 1976.108.90 - SAAM-1976.108.90_1 - 61404
Louise Nevelson, Night Leaf, 1969, plexiglas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Woodward Foundation


That dress! That hat! It’s never too early to think about what to wear on New Year’s Eve. You’ve been Zooming from home in your ’Lemons for a year and a half. But when life gives you black velvet, make a night of it!

Media - 1951.14.53 - SAAM-1951.14.53_1 - 67319
Alice Pike Barney, Laura in Blacks, 1899, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Laura Dreyfus Barney and Natalie Clifford Barney in memory of their mother, Alice Pike Barney


Feeling a bit burned out? This toaster knows how you feel. Made of vinyl, thread, and copper wire, it looks good, but won’t be much help when you’re craving some cinnamon raisin toast with your coffee. And don’t even get me started on the blender!

Media - 2012.36 - SAAM-2012.36_1 - 79885
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


Surprise! Just when you thought we were only shady, it's time to be... shadowy. Like a shock to the system, the light wood zips across the deep black of this bowl, shouting WAKE UP!

Media - 1995.100.5 - SAAM-1995.100.5_2 - 66390
Virginia Dotson, Shadow Play #1, 1994, birch, maple, and aniline dye, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of George Peter Lamb and Lucy Scardino in memory of Natalie Rust Lamb, 1995.100.5, © 1994, Virginia Dotson


This graphite pendant is made to leave a trace of color (I mean shade) on the wearer. You know who you are. Get out there and make your mark. The world is waiting for you. Be the pendant! It only moves when you do... 

Media - 1995.12 - SAAM-1995.12_2 - 118203
Joan Parcher, Graphite Pendulum-Pendant, 1994, graphite, sterling silver, and stainless steel, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Renwick Acquisitions Fund


Get ready to be BOWLed over by this study in contrasts. It’s matte! It’s shiny! It’s angular! It’s curved!

Media - 1966.27.18 - SAAM-1966.27.18_1 - 66617
Tonita Martinez Roybal, Bowl, blackware, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of International Business Machines Corporation


You are getting sleepy. Black Friday lasts until late into the night. You’ve been at it for a long time, and now you’re seeing stars.

Media - 2009.4.1 - SAAM-2009.4.1_1 - 70843
Vija Celmins, Night Sky, 2005, screenprint on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible by David S. Purvis, 2009.4.1, © 2005, Vija Celmins and b x p, inc.


We’re in love with the shape of... this sculpture. Does it push and pull your eyes... like a magnet do? Just when you think you’re on a roll, this blog post has come to an end.

Media - 1997.53A-B - SAAM-1997.53A-B_1 - 62337
Anne Currier, Rollway, 1992, hand-built and glazed earthenware, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the James Renwick Alliance on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Renwick Gallery

If you need a little more color, we invite you to search SAAM’s collection to dive into some bright, pastel, sparkly, whatever artworks.


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