Eye Level

Eye Level is the blog of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery. Publishing behind-the-scenes museum stories since 2005.

Not in the Fast Lane: Anthony Hernandez's Photographs

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.
Jeff on July 26, 2017

Throwback Thursday, Nam June Paik: Because Almost All of the Audience is Uninvited

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.
Jeff on July 20, 2017

SAAM Arcade: Let the Video Games Begin

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.
Amy on July 6, 2017

Movies at SAAM: Summer 2017

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.
Ryan on June 20, 2017

Luce Unplugged: Five Questions with Stephanie Williams and Matt Cohen

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!
Madeline on June 14, 2017

Donald Sultan's Disaster Paintings

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.

Movies at SAAM: The New York Latino Film Festival

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.
Ryan on June 1, 2017

Framing the City: Mean Streets and Urban Photography

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.

Reading Into the Throne: On James Hampton's Notebook

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.

In This Case: 42nd Street Nocturne

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.
Ryan on May 10, 2017

JFK: American Visionary

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."