Eye Level

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

Saving Outdoor Sculpture

The Heritage Emergency National Task Force is acting as a clearinghouse for information about cultural resources in the states affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Kriston on November 3, 2005

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Edward Winkleman wrote about Andrew Wyeth recently, commenting on the distinction between art we love for the pure visual pleasure it provides and the art we value conceptually. Winkleman observes, "In the end, this discussion seems to turn on whether we place more value on concept or pleasure in artwork. . . . [I]f we're honest, we'll admit we don't have as many qualms about celebrating concept sans pleasure . . . it's just the other way around that makes us squeamish."
Kriston on November 2, 2005

The Scully Files

I don't think I'm alone when I say that, from time to time, an artist whose work I've always casually admired will—without warning—completely capture my attention. In my case, after some light research into the artist's background, I began devouring anything I could find about Sean Scully and his abstract work.
Kriston on October 31, 2005


Consuelo "Chelo" González Amézcua called her works "filigree drawings" in reference to a delicate jewelrymaking style from her native Mexico.
Kriston on October 21, 2005

Out for a Stroll

When you work in an office building, especially if you sit at a computer all day, you need to force yourself to get outside every once and a while. Fortunately a stroll around here often rewards one with something interesting to see. The museum is in a neighborhood full of change: new stores, restaurants, clubs, and dwellings open every day, not to mention the hubbub of the renovation of our building.
Michael on October 20, 2005

Eyes on 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 October 18, 2005

Katrina and the Arts

While focusing on providing material aid and relief to the thousands displaced by Hurricane Katrina, it's certainly the case that much in the way of charity will be required to rebuild the unique cultural capital that is New Orleans and to restore the many Gulf Coast arts institutions damaged by the storm and subsequent flood.
Kriston on October 14, 2005