Eye Level

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

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Part II)

“Pushing out my old large-format camera’s focal length to twice-infinity,” Hiroshi Sugimoto writes, ". . . I discovered that superlative architecture survives the onslaught of blurred photography.”
Kriston on May 11, 2006

The Chair: An Update

Last month I picked up on an item from the American Art collection highlighted by MAN-scribe Tyler Green: a curious painting of an electric chair by Pop confection artist Wayne Thiebaud. As it happens, I’ve been thinking about Thiebaud since I attended the Nova Art Fair in Chicago, where a number of artworks referenced him directly, and more did so inadvertently. He seems to be on a lot of artists’ radar.
Kriston on May 10, 2006

Meet Me at Midnight

Today we are launching Meet Me at Midnight, an interactive art mystery Web site for kids. It's perfect for eight- to ten-year-olds and is meant to be a fun intro to visiting the museum and seeing some cool artwork. Of course, we hope to teach a little something along the way.
Jeff on May 4, 2006

Before and After

Last week Kriston posted his impressions of the newly renovated Old Patent Office building which will house SAAM and the National Portrait Gallery come July 1.
Jeff on May 1, 2006

Eye Level Wins MUSE Award

Eye Level has won a MUSE Award from the American Association of Museums—we took home a silver in “Two-Way Communication Projects.”
Kriston on April 28, 2006

Meet the Press

Last week All Things Considered ran a feature by Lynn Neary about the restoration of the Old Patent Office building, which houses the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.
Kriston on April 22, 2006

Looking at Art with Fresh Eyes

There’s nothing like looking at artworks with fresh eyes—or, at least, watching others look with fresh eyes.
Cassandra on April 19, 2006

Presenting Dorothy Draper

If you don't know the name, you know her work. She is the incredible Dorothy Draper (1889-1969), and she is having a banner year.
Joanna on April 17, 2006

Hiroshi Sugimoto (Part I)

In person, Hiroshi Sugimoto resists the descriptions that apply to his photography; he is not dour or somber but affable, even irreverent.
Kriston on April 12, 2006

The Hours

Recently my roommate and I found ourselves tossed out of the Dada exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. No, not for any Dada-inspired improvised performances—merely because the museum closed. We showed up at the museum at 2:30 p.m. or so on a Saturday and hadn't finished looking through the final room when the museum announced last call.
Kriston on April 10, 2006

The Chair

Tyler Green writes about an off-key Wayne Thiebaud given to the Smithsonian American Art Museum last year as part of a bequest by Arthur and Edith Levin. It's a 1957 painting of an electric chair, which places Thiebaud on the capital punishment beat several years before Andy Warhol stepped his Sing Sing photograph into production in the early 1960s for his iconic electric chair series.
Kriston on April 6, 2006

Best of the Web

The Museums and the Web conference announced the winners of its Best of the Web competition Friday in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Michael on March 30, 2006

Manifest Destiny

This doesn't specifically concern American art—or even anything on the planet Earth—but of the craters on the planet Mercury named after important terrestrial cultural figures, only one American artist and one American architect are represented: respectively, John Singleton Copley (latitude: 38.4S, longitude: 85.2W) and Louis Sullivan (latitude: 16.9S, longitude: 86.3W).
Kriston on March 28, 2006

Museums and the Web Wake-Up Call

I thought I was beginning to understand this job just a little bit. We talk to curators and educators about art, listen to the public, and generally get excited about things and try to pull it all together in digital form. We’ve been doing Web and new media for 10 years now, and I was beginning to feel like I was getting the hang of it.
Michael Edson on March 25, 2006

Safire's Spreadsheet

A grammar maven and self-described “vituperative right-wing scandalmonger,” former New York Times opinion columnist William Safire is not your typical arts advocate. But Safire wants you to rethink not only the politics of art but art itself, according to Philip Kennicott’s Washington Post write-up of the 19th annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy.
Kriston on March 24, 2006