Eye Level

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

The Lonesome, Crowded West

When I take my roadtrip one day through the American Southwest to see its many site-specific earth artworks, the last stop will be the furthest frontier in American earth art: Joshua Tree, California.
Kriston on January 27, 2006

iChiaroscuro

There’s a discussion buzzing on the Eye Level backend about Caravaggio: una mostra impossible, the “impossible” Caravaggio exhibit at the Loyola University Museum of Art in Chicago. The exhibit features 57 backlit digital reproductions of works by the artist—masterpieces, all, that surely could never be seen together in any one place at any one time. Some of us are quite critical of this exhibit, while others are ready hitch a ride to Chicago to see the show and buy the T-shirt.
Michael Edson on January 19, 2006

Ask the Artist: William Christenberry

With SAAM’s reopening set for this July (after a six year top-to-bottom renovation of our  building), we begin a series of posts to give you an inside look at our reopening preparations.

Jeff on January 13, 2006

Primetime Artists

I TiVoed Imagining America: Icons of 20th-Century American Art but didn’t have the time to sit down and watch it before I set off for a vacation in Texas.
Kriston on January 6, 2006

Sense and Design

I don’t consider Dutch Design to be design generated in the Netherlands. I consider Dutch Design a kind of work, or an attitude about work, or even a brand of work, that could theoretically occur anywhere at anytime.
Kriston on December 29, 2005

You Say You Want a Revolution

On a flight recently I saw so many people reading books by Malcolm Gladwell—three reading Blink (myself included) and one other reading The Tipping Point—that I began to suspect it was a new Federal Aviation Administration security mandate. (At least I would have been on the right side of the law.)
Kriston on December 21, 2005

Updike Takes On...

I nearly forgot about the recent NPR interview with John Updike, author of Still Looking, a collection of essays on artists, along with scores of novels and literary essays.
Kriston on December 19, 2005

Miami Art Machine

This year I had planned to attend Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB)—the 4-day Miami gala comprising five contemporary art fairs [Art Basel, Pulse, Aqua Art, New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA), and Design05]—but the weekend disagreed with my schedule. Stuck out in the cold.
Kriston on December 15, 2005

Featuring Birds

Here's an excerpt from Paul Richard's Washington Post article about Audubon's Birds of America, selections from which are on view at the National Gallery of Art's Audubon's Dream Realized exhibition:
Kriston on December 13, 2005

Ghosts and Artisans

When art touches and powerfully shapes someone’s life, it always makes for a good story. But it’s not often that one hears such testimony about work made as recently as 1985. We’re happy our Renwick Gallery could be the conduit.
Kriston on December 9, 2005

Coast to Coast With Dana Schutz

Economist Tyler Cowen mentioned that he's still thinking about Dana Schutz's paintings after a recent tour through MoMA. There's been no lack of attention for Schutz since 2003, when her works were featured in both the Venice and Prague biennales—just one year after her graduation from Columbia's MFA program.
Kriston on December 2, 2005

Game of Kings Artists

You'll want to read Ben Davis's Artnet write-up of the Noguchi Museum's exhibition, "The Imagery of Chess Revisited," whether you're a chess player or not.
Kriston on November 30, 2005

Opening Day

Welcome to Eye Level! I'm pleased to introduce the Smithsonian American Art Museum's blog, the first by the Smithsonian and one of just a handful of museum sites in the blogosphere.
Kriston on November 28, 2005

Westward Spiral

Easily one of the iconic visual artworks from the last few decades—and all the more so for having been seen by so few people—Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty (1970) has possibly never looked better.

Kriston on November 22, 2005

In Stereo

Senior Art Historian Richard Murray estimates that the stereograph was taken in the late 1890s; the presence of stairs leading up to the building indicate that the image cannot have been taken more recently than the 1930s.
Kriston on November 21, 2005

Pride or Prejudice?

A little background: In the 1830s George Catlin, a painter, traveled across the Great Plains in order to document the "manners, customs, and conditions" of the Native American Plains tribes. Catlin roughly followed the Missouri River, journeying nearly 2,000 miles, and in doing so produced his Indian Gallery, a body of work that catalogued individuals and activities of fifty different tribes.
Kriston on November 15, 2005