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.
Eye Level is the blog of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery. Publishing behind-the-scenes museum stories since 2005.
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.
The other day, in my quest to look at works of art with fresh eyes, I asked a colleague to join me (that's one way to get new eyes) in a walk through the museum, and let me know what spoke to him.
Are you looking for something cool and entertaining to do this summer? Look no further! "Movies at SAAM" has got you covered. We're excited to bring you a wonderful lineup of movies and guest speakers that will provide a refreshing look into American art.
Martín Espada's incantatory poetry reading at SAAM in honor of Down These Mean Streets: Community and Place in Urban Photography paid lasting tribute to his father, the documentary photographer Frank Espada (1930-2014), whose work is featured in the exhibition.
It's no secret that the District's music scene buzzes with diverse talent. Yet, how do we harness this creativity in the Luce Foundation Center? With help from DC Music Download's Stephanie Williams for our Thursday shows, and insight from Matt Cohen, arts editor for the Washington City Paper, for our Friday showcases!
One of the best parts of my day is the time I set aside to search through the comments and photos people share with us on social media about the museum's artworks.
Donald Sultan's industrial landscape series depict an array of catastrophes, including forest fires, railway accidents, arsons, and industrial plants exuding toxic plumes. Twelve of these large-scale paintings are now on display at SAAM in the exhibition Donald Sultan: The Disaster Paintings.
On June 9 and June 10, Movies at SAAM is proud to co-host a two day film festival with the National Portrait Gallery's Taína Caragol, Curator of Latino Art and History, and SAAM's E. Carmen Ramos, Curator of Latino Art.
On Thursday, May 25, Bad Moves will perform in the Luce Foundation Center as part of Luce Unplugged, our free, monthly concert series presented with DC Music Download.
The exhibition, Down These Mean Streets: Community and Place in Urban Photography, takes as its starting point, the response by Latino artists to the "urban crisis," a term that emerged in the 1960s to refer to the changes that were going on in many cities throughout the United States. The exhibition title is inspired by author Piri Thomas, who grew up in El Barrio (aka Spanish Harlem), and captured the decline of the urban environment in his memoir Down These Mean Streets, published in 1967.
An expanded presentation of the now iconic Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly (aka The Throne) by James Hampton is currently on view in the newly installed and reimagined galleries for folk and self-taught art at SAAM.
As a visual for our film series Movies at SAAM, we've been using Xavier Barile's 42nd Street Nocturne. But did you know this painting hangs in the Luce Foundation Center? Situated in case 36B, Barile's small impressionistic painting shows New York City's 42nd Street Apollo Theatre aglow beneath a starry sky. Not only does this piece exemplify mid-20th-century American art, but it touches on key themes found within the history of film.
Lawrence Schiller, a former Life magazine photojournalist (who ironically was assigned to Nixon's failed presidential campaign) organized the exhibition and reviewed 34,000 photographs, before choosing seventy-seven "images that told the story."