Books

We Are Made of Stories: Self-Taught Artists in the Robson Family Collection

We Are Made of Stories: Self-Taught Artists in the Robson Family Collection traces the rise of self-taught artists in the twentieth century and examines how, despite wide-ranging societal, racial, and gender-based obstacles, their creativity and bold self-definition became major forces in American art. The exhibition features recent gifts to the museum from two generations of collectors, Margaret Z. Robson and her son Douglas O. Robson, and will be on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum July 1, 2022 through March 26, 2023.

This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World

This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World showcases American craft like never before. Accompanying a 2022 exhibition of the same name, it features artists’ stories of resilience, methods of activism, and highlights craft’s ability to spark essential conversations about race, gender, and representation. This book marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery, the nation’s preeminent center for the enjoyment of American craft. It honors the history of the American studio craft movement while also introducing progressive contemporary narratives.

Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano

Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano presents a broad exploration of American engagement with Venice’s art world in the late nineteenth century. During this time, Americans in Venice not only encountered a floating city of palaces, museums, and churches, but also countless shop windows filled with dazzling specimens of brightly colored glass. This lavishly illustrated book examines exquisitely crafted glass pieces alongside paintings, watercolors, and prints of the same era by American artists who found inspiration in Venice, including Frank Duveneck, Ellen Day Hale, Thomas Moran, Maria Oakey Dewing, Robert Frederick Blum, Charles Caryl Coleman, Louise Cox, Maurice Prendergast, and Maxfield Parrish, in addition to John Singer Sargent and James McNeill Whistler.

¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now

Beginning in the 1960s, activist Chicano artists forged a remarkable history of printmaking that remains vital today. Many artists came of age during the civil rights, labor, anti-war, feminist and LGBTQ+ movements, and channeled the period’s social activism into assertive aesthetic statements that announced a new political and cultural consciousness among people of Mexican descent in the United States. The exhibition ¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now presents, for the first time, historical civil rights-era prints by Chicano artists alongside works by graphic artists working from the 1980s to today.

We Are Made of Stories: Self-Taught Artists in the Robson Family Collection

We Are Made of Stories: Self-Taught Artists in the Robson Family Collection traces the rise of self-taught artists in the twentieth century and examines how, despite wide-ranging societal, racial, and gender-based obstacles, their creativity and bold self-definition became major forces in American art. The exhibition features recent gifts to the museum from two generations of collectors, Margaret Z. Robson and her son Douglas O. Robson, and will be on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum July 1, 2022 through March 26, 2023.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Remembering the Running Fence

The dynamic partnership of Christo and Jeanne-Claude spans more than four decades, and their enormous outdoor art installations are known the world over. From 1972 to 1976, Christo and Jeanne-Claude conceived, planned, and created the Running Fence, an eighteen-foot-high white nylon fence that stretched more than twenty-four miles across privately owned lands in Marin and Sonoma counties in northern California. Four years in the planning, the Fence was on view for just two weeks, but it remains a landmark event in contemporary art.

This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World

This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World showcases American craft like never before. Accompanying a 2022 exhibition of the same name, it features artists’ stories of resilience, methods of activism, and highlights craft’s ability to spark essential conversations about race, gender, and representation. This book marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery, the nation’s preeminent center for the enjoyment of American craft. It honors the history of the American studio craft movement while also introducing progressive contemporary narratives.

Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano

Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano presents a broad exploration of American engagement with Venice’s art world in the late nineteenth century. During this time, Americans in Venice not only encountered a floating city of palaces, museums, and churches, but also countless shop windows filled with dazzling specimens of brightly colored glass. This lavishly illustrated book examines exquisitely crafted glass pieces alongside paintings, watercolors, and prints of the same era by American artists who found inspiration in Venice, including Frank Duveneck, Ellen Day Hale, Thomas Moran, Maria Oakey Dewing, Robert Frederick Blum, Charles Caryl Coleman, Louise Cox, Maurice Prendergast, and Maxfield Parrish, in addition to John Singer Sargent and James McNeill Whistler.

¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now

Beginning in the 1960s, activist Chicano artists forged a remarkable history of printmaking that remains vital today. Many artists came of age during the civil rights, labor, anti-war, feminist and LGBTQ+ movements, and channeled the period’s social activism into assertive aesthetic statements that announced a new political and cultural consciousness among people of Mexican descent in the United States. The exhibition ¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now presents, for the first time, historical civil rights-era prints by Chicano artists alongside works by graphic artists working from the 1980s to today.

Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020

Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020 features artists Lauren Fensterstock, Timothy Horn, Debora Moore, and Rowland Ricketts. Nature provides a way for these invited artists to ask what it means to be human in a world increasingly chaotic and divorced from our physical landscape. Representing craft media from fiber to mosaic to glass and metals, these artists approach the long history of art’s engagement with the natural world through unconventional and highly personal perspectives.

Ginny Ruffner: Reforestation of the Imagination

Reforestation of the Imagination invites us into a futuristic landscape of peril and promise. Combining handblown glass sculptures with augmented reality (AR), artist Ginny Ruffner blends art and technology, curiosity and wonder, and takes us on a journey of “what ifs”: What if the landscape is devastated? What can nature do to heal itself? What roles do creativity and science play in our ability to confront an altered landscape?

Artists Respond: American Art and the Vietnam War, 1965-1975

How the Vietnam War Changed American Art. More than forty years after the last American soldiers withdrew from Sài Gòn, Artists Respond affords a “real time” view of the Vietnam era as seen through the eyes of American artists. Each work was created as the conflict raged at home and abroad and is a record of how artists absorbed and contended with the dilemmas of the war as they unfolded.

Disrupting Craft: Renwick Invitational 2018

Disrupting Craft: Renwick Invitational 2018 features essays written by the jurors that explore how each artist has used their chosen media to contribute beyond the confines of the art world.

Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor

The official catalogue for the exhibition Between Worlds: The Art of Bill Traylor, on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum from September 28, 2018 through April 7, 2019, is by curator Leslie Umberger, with an introduction by artist Kerry James Marshall.

Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen

A midcareer survey of this MacArthur Award–winning artist, this catalogue presents Paglen’s early photographic series alongside his recent sculptural objects and new work with artificial intelligence.

Diane Arbus: A box of ten photographs

In late 1969, Diane Arbus (1923–1971) began to work on a portfolio. She titled it A box of ten photographs. This catalogue traces the history of A box of ten photographs using the eleven-print set that she made for Bea Feitler, art director at Harper’s Bazaar. It was acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 1986 and is the only one of the portfolios completed and sold by Arbus that is publicly held.  All eleven prints are beautifully reproduced, along with their handwritten vellums.

Tamayo: The New York Years

Tamayo: The New York Years explores the influences between Rufino Tamayo (1899–1991), a major Mexican modernist best known for his boldly colored, semiabstract paintings, and the American art world. It reveals how he forged a new path in the modern art of the Americas and contributed to New York’s dynamic cultural scene as the city was becoming a center of postwar art. 

Isamu Noguchi, Archaic / Modern

Sculptor Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) made works that “speak of both the modern and the ancient in the same breath.” An essay by Dakin Hart traces themes in Noguchi’s sixty-year career—an expansive vision that ranged from landscape art to garden and playground designs, from sculptures featuring planets and outer space to those grappling with the atomic age, and from patented lamps and furniture to modern dance sets and costumes. More than sixty full-color plates highlight the timeless appeal of this thoroughly modern artist.

The Artistic Journey of Yasuo Kuniyoshi

Painter, photographer, and printmaker Yasuo Kuniyoshi immigrated to the United States from Japan in 1906 and began a journey through New York City, Europe, and Japan that forged his unique painting style. In The Artistic Journey of Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Tom Wolf charts the artist's life and career through sixty-six of the artist's best paintings and drawings. What emerges is a richly complex portrait of an artist navigating the social, cultural, and political challenges of his adopted homeland.

George Catlin and His Indian Gallery

Troccoli, Joan, et.al.
The year was 1830, and the American West was entering a phase of rapid transformation. Passage of the Indian Removal Act commenced the twelve-year migration of American Indians from lands east of the Mississippi River. Meanwhile, settlers and traders in the Great Plains brought sweeping changes to those Native American cultures.

Renwick Invitational 2016: Visions and Revisions

Visions and Revisions celebrates the work of four contemporary craft artists—Steven Young Lee, Kristen Morgin, Jennifer Trask, and Norwood Viviano. Artworks from each artist defy expectations as they meditate on decline and decay, resilience and rebirth. Lee’s porcelain vessels, derived from Asian ceramic traditions, slump and bend, fracture and fold in the kiln. Morgin’s unfired clay assemblages explore personal nostalgia and the American Dream. Trask weaves bone, resin, metal, feathers, and insect wings in haunting jewelry. Viviano uses cast glass and maps to investigate population shifts and the fragility of communities everywhere.

June Schwarcz: Invention & Variation

For more than sixty years, June Schwarcz (1918–2015) advanced the art of enameling—fusing glass to metal through a high-temperature firing process—while creating works that combine rich textures and luminous color. Her technical experiments earned her national awards and generations of followers.

Framing the West: The Survey Photographs of Timothy H. O'Sullivan

Few photographers have captured more compelling images of the untamed American West than Timothy H. O’Sullivan. Trained under Mathew Brady and Alexander Gardner, O’Sullivan accompanied two government surveys of the West in the 1860s and 1870s with geologist Clarence King and Lieutenant George M. Wheeler. Along these journeys, O’Sullivan produced photographs that exhibit a forthright and rigorous style formed in response to the landscapes he encountered. Faced with challenging terrain and lacking previous photographic examples on which to rely, O’Sullivan created a body of work that was without precedent in its visual and emotional complexities.

Made with Passion: The Hemphill Folk Art Collection

This in-depth look at a renowned collection, ranging from bottlecap giraffes and wood carvings to hand-sewn quilts, provides a new understanding of folk art, recognizing its achievements as an essential part of America’s visual heritage. Lynda Roscoe Hartigan’s essay discusses the man behind the collection and its development over four decades.

Li'l Sis and Uncle Willie

Through the eyes of almost-six-year-old Li'l Sis, the colorful story of Uncle Willie unfolds, a story that changes forever a little girl's perceptions of art and the world around her. The book is based on the life of African American artist William H. Johnson (1901–1970) and illustrated with his paintings.

America's Art: Smithsonian American Art Museum

From its earliest stirrings as a republic to the information age, America has been a country of triumph and struggle, imagination and innovation. And for nearly three centuries the country’s artists, witnesses to the nation’s extraordinary arc of development, have created a rich visual record that offers insights into our beginnings and growth as a nation.

Temple of Invention: History of a National Landmark

This lavishly illustrated history of America’s Patent Office Building illuminates the importance of a treasured national landmark. Today the building is home to two Smithsonian museums, the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. The book’s rich historical details from the 1830s to the present will be of particular interest to architectural historians and urban planners and to anyone who loves our nation's capital.

An Impressionist Sensibility: The Halff Collection

This full-color catalogue provides a rare insight into a stunning private collection of American Art. Hugh and Marie Halff, connoisseurs based in San Antonio, Texas, have read, studied, and traveled widely in their quest. With unerring judgment, they have acquired masterpieces that not only please the eye, but challenge the mind. Presented here, twenty-six of their paintings brilliantly capture the aesthetic sensibility of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century America.

Earl Cunningham's America

Garrett, Wendell, et al.
Earl Cunningham (1893–1977) was one of the premier folk artists of the twentieth century. Earl Cunningham’s America presents Cunningham as a folk modernist who used the flat space and brilliant color typical of Matisse and Van Gogh to create sophisticated compositions. Wendell Garrett brings his broad knowledge of decorative arts and folk art to bear, placing Cunningham in the context of ideas and events. Virginia Mecklenburg, senior curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, traces Cunningham’s life and situates his work in the context of the folk art revival that brought Edward Hicks, Grandma Moses, and Horace Pippin to national attention. Carolyn Weekly, director of museums at Colonial Williamsburg, shows how Cunningham’s style developed over the course of his career.

Staged Stories: Renwick Craft Invitational 2009

Staged Stories: Renwick Craft Invitational 2009 showcases the talent of four exceptional artists: Christyl Boger, Mark Newport, Mary Van Cline, and SunKoo Yuh. Working in the traditional media of clay, fiber, and glass, these artists push their material to communicate in new ways.

What's It All Mean: William T. Wiley in Retrospect

Over a period of fifty years, William T. Wiley has distinguished himself by creating an extensive body of work that challenges the precepts of mainstream art. Making art that is at once witty and serious, topical and discursive, Wiley’s practices range from traditional drawing, watercolor, acrylic painting, sculpture, printmaking and film, to performance, constructions of assorted materials, and more recently, printed pins and tapestries. Wiley enjoyed great success early in his career with international exhibitions and a worldwide audience in the 1960s and early 1970s. Yet as “minimal” and “cool” prevailed on the East Coast, he was often referred to as a California “funk” regionalist. What’s It All Mean: William T. Wiley in retrospect includes essays by Joann Moser, John Yau, and John G. Hanhardt that place the artist’s works within a biographical context, assess Wiley’s distinctive use of language, and reflect on Wiley’s films of the 1970s.

American Impressionism: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

American Impressionism: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum commemorates Treasures to Go, a series of eight exhibitions from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, touring the nation through 2002. The Principal Financial Group is a proud partner in presenting these treasures to the American people.

Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg

Norman Rockwell’s pictures tell stories—of children growing up and of couples growing old—that make us laugh with warmhearted recognition. Rockwell was a master humorist with an infallible sense of the dramatic moment. Like a movie director, he determined the pose and facial expression of each character, positioned each prop, and lighted his sets for maximum scenic effect. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg encountered Rockwell’s magazine covers as boys. The painter’s stories, and the ideals they reflect, fascinated these two friends and sometime collaborators and drew them to value, and collect, the work of Norman Rockwell. In this book, Virginia Mecklenburg traces Rockwell’s career using works from the collections of Lucas and Spielberg as guideposts. She also explores Rockwell’s fascination with Hollywood and his elaborate creative process wherein he assumed a role remarkably like that of a film director. In a separate essay, Todd McCarthy describes Rockwell’s cinematic techniques and draws parallels between Rockwell’s subjects and those of Hollywood directors, including Lucas and Spielberg.

A Revolution in Wood: The Bresler Collection

A Revolution in Wood celebrates the gift of sixty-six pieces of turned and carved wood to the Renwick Gallery by the distinguished collectors Fleur and Charles Bresler. Illustrated in lavish detail, works by this country’s best-known wood artists highlight the growing sophistication of American craft’s youngest medium. The collection includes masterpieces by the field’s pioneers—David Ellsworth, William Hunter, Mark and Melvin Lindquist, and several others—as well as compelling recent works created with new techniques.

History in the Making: Renwick Craft Invitational 2011

Features four extraordinary artists whose work explores the deep roots of contemporary American craft and decorative arts: Ubaldo Vitali, Cliff Lee, Judith Schaechter, and Mathias Pliessnig. Authors Nicholas R. Bell, Ulysses Grant Dietz, and Andrew Wagner examine how each artist mines and transcends tradition.

To Make a World: George Ault and 1940s America

An American painter usually associated with the precisionist movement, George Copeland Ault (1891–1948) created works that provide a unique window onto the uncertainty and despair of the Second World War. To Make a World is the first major publication on Ault in more than two decades and features nearly twenty of Ault’s paintings alongside works by twenty-two of his contemporaries, including Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth.

Nam June Paik: Global Visionary

Internationally recognized as the “father of video art,” Korean-born artist Nam June Paik (1932–2006) transformed twentieth-century art. His innovative media-based artwork was grounded in avant-garde music and performance art, which he used to expand video and television as artistic expressions. Nam June Paik: Global Visionary offers a view into the artist’s creative method by featuring key artworks that convey Paik’s extraordinary accomplishments as well as selections from the Nam June Paik Archive.

African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, The Civil Rights Movement, and Beyond

African American Art: Harlem Renaissance, Civil Rights Era, and Beyond offers a rich vision of twentieth-century visual culture. An essay by Richard Powell sets the stage: his analyses of works by Sargent Johnson, Renée Stout, Eldzier Cortor, and Alma Thomas give the reader a rubric for considering other works that range from the Harlem Renaissance to the decades beyond the civil rights era, a period that saw tremendous social and political change. The forty-three artists included here worked in every style current during those decades, from documentary realism to abstraction, from expressionism to postmodern assemblage. They consistently touch universal themes, but they also evoke specific aspects of the African American experience—the African Diaspora, jazz, and the persistent power of religion.

Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art

Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art explores how Latino artists shaped the artistic movements of their day and recalibrated key themes in American art and culture. This beautifully illustrated volume presents the rich and varied contributions of Latino artists in the United States since the mid-twentieth century, when the concept of a collective Latino identity began to emerge. Our America includes works by artists who participated in all the various artistic styles and movements, including abstract expressionism; activist, conceptual, and performance art; and classic American genres such as landscape, portraiture, and scenes of everyday life. 

Untitled: The Art of James Castle

Untitled: The Art of James Castle celebrates one of the most enigmatic American artists of the twentieth century. For nearly seven decades, Castle gathered materials around his rural Idaho home, such as packaging, advertisements, string, and soot, and created an elaborate and umistakable representation of his world.

Lure of the West: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Lure of the West: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum commemorates Treasures to Go, a series of eight exhibitions from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, touring the nation through 2002. The Principal Financial Group is a proud partner in presenting these treasures to the American people.

Arte Latino: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Arte Latino highlights more than 200 years of Latino art from the United States and Puerto Rico. Of the fifty artworks depicted in this book, the earliest are from Puerto Rico, which became a U.S. territory in 1898. Others reflect the heritage of the Hispanic Southwest, from eighteenth-century religious carvings to recent works. The Chicano movement of the 1960s inspired artists to address social and political issues. Many Cuban American artists and other immigrants express a divided identity, having left family and a past behind them.

A Measure of the Earth

A Measure of the Earth provides an window into the traditional basketry revival of the past fifty years. Nicholas Bell’s essay details the longstanding use of traditional fibers, such as black ash, white oak, willow, and sweetgrass and the perseverance of a select few to harvest these elements—the land itself—for the enrichment of daily life. Drawing on conversations with basketmakers from across the country and reproducing many of their documentary photographs, Bell offers an intimate glimpse of their lifeways, motivations, and hopes. Lavish illustrations of every basket in the exhibition convey the humble, tactile beauty of these functional vessels.

Craft for a Modern World

Craft for a Modern World presents 150 of the Renwick Gallery’s 2,000 artworks in a new light, celebrating the restoration and reopening of its historic landmark home. Encouraging readers to find their own connections—as they have come to expect in today’s hyperlinked world—curator Nora Atkinson describes some of her associations among these artifacts of makers, both contemporary and pioneer. Readers can engage the artworks through subtle linkages in the color plates, which introduce related works in black and white. According to Atkinson, the artworks in this catalogue, many of them newly photographed, “are a playground for the mind.”

George Catlin’s American Buffalo

Artist George Catlin journeyed west five times in the 1830s, traversing the Great Plains and visiting more than 140 American Indian tribes. In hundreds of canvases, Catlin recorded the lifeways of Plains Indians, including illustrating massive herds of buffalo and their importance in daily life. In George Catlin’s American Buffalo, Adam Duncan Harris considers forty of Catlin’s paintings and the artist’s role as an early proponent of wilderness conservation and the national park idea, and how that advocacy remains relevant today—to the Great Plains, the buffalo, and land use.

The Civil War and American Art

The Civil War and American Art looks at the range of artwork created in the years between 1852 and 1877. Author Eleanor Jones Harvey surveys paintings made by some of America’s finest artists, including Frederic Edwin Church, Sanford Gifford, Winslow Homer, and Eastman Johnson, and photographs taken by George Barnard, Alexander Gardner, and Timothy O’Sullivan.

African American Masters: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

African American Masters focuses on black artists whose efforts in the twentieth century demonstrate their command of mainstream traditions as well as the open assertion and exploration of their dual heritage. Many—like Sargent Johnson, Lois Mailou Jones, James Porter, and William H. Johnson—responded in the 1930s and 1940s to Alain Locke's call for an art of the “New Negro” and explored the social and narrative aspects of African or African American sources. Others—Henry Ossawa Tanner, Beauford Delaney, and Norman Lewis—embraced broader themes or the modernist challenges of form and color. Contemporary artists—from Betye Saar and Mel Edwards to Renée Stout and Whitfield Lovell—have mined sources as varied as the autobiographical and the international. Horace Pippin and Purvis Young, as self-taught artists, tapped the spiritual and social underpinnings of their communities. Portraits and documentary images have dominated the subject matter of modern black photographers. James VanDerZee and Roland Freeman epitomize those photographers who have chosen the people and environment of their own neighborhoods as their subjects. Others, foremost among them Roy DeCarava and Gordon Parks, have sought out communities or traditions of the larger African American society.

Edward Hopper: The Watercolors

In the 1920s, inspired perhaps by the particular light and quality of Gloucester, Massachusetts, Edward Hopper began painting watercolors. He has been celebrated since then as one of the most eloquent of America’s realists. Text by Virginia Mecklenburg and Margaret Ausfeld accompanies over a hundred brilliant color images as well as seventy additional illustrations and a chronology of Hopper’s life and works.

The Land Through a Lens: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

A prolific landscape record evolved as soon as cameras and equipment could be reliably used outdoors. Most nineteenth-century photographers worked on government-sponsored surveys. Others helped to lure investors westward with the images they made along the routes of the railroads. At the same time, Americans were hanging framed images by such photographic artists as Carleton Watkins and Eadweard Muybridge on their parlor walls. Photographs of unspoiled national treasures such as those by Ansel Adams exerted considerable influence on the federal government’s efforts to create national parks. Modern and contemporary photographers have recorded their impressions of both man’s and nature’s impact on the land, from Robert Dawson’s images of polluted waterways to Emmet Gowin’s views of the aftermath of Mount St. Helens’s spectacular eruption.

Graphic Masters: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Graphic Masters celebrates the extraordinary variety and accomplishment of American artists’ works on paper. Exceptional watercolors, pastels, and drawings from the 1860s through the 1990s reveal the central importance of works on paper for American artists, both as studies for creations in other media and as finished works of art. Traditionally a more intimate form of expression than painting or sculpture, drawings often reveal greater spontaneity and experimentation. Even as works on paper become larger and more finished, competing in scale with easel paintings, they retain a sense of the artist’s hand, the immediacy of a thought made visible.

40 Under 40: Craft Futures

40 Under 40: Craft Futures examines the expanding role of the handmade in contemporary culture through the work of the next generation of artists. Organized in celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the Renwick Gallery, the Smithsonian's branch museum for American craft and decorative arts, this project gathers forty makers born since 1972, the year the Renwick opened to the public. Apparent are rapidly evolving notions of craft, ranging from traditional media, such as ceramics and jewelry, to fields as varied as sculpture, industrial design, performance and installation art, fashion design, sustainable manufacturing, and mathematics.

National Museum of American Art

The striking design of this book showcases a comprehensive survey of the world’s largest collection of works by American artists, ranging from colonial limners to the contemporary avant-garde. With abundant full-color illustrations, the book is organized thematically to reflect the variety of concerns and aesthetic visions that have shaped American art over the past three centuries.

American Photographs: The First Century from the Isaacs Collection in the National Museum of American Art

In the nineteenth century, people from all walks of life embraced the new medium of photography with unparalleled enthusiasm. For artist and inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, it was “one of the beauties of the age.” Edgar Allan Poe hailed photography as “the most important, and perhaps the most extraordinary triumph of modern science.” Here was a medium, it was proposed, that could serve as a mirror of nature, suggesting new possibilities to artists. For the average citizen, less concerned with art or science, the medium offered a satisfying way to record his or her private world—family, friends, homes, and farms.

Harlem Heroes: Photographs by Carl Van Vechten

Author Carl Van Vechten (1880–1964) began making portraits in 1932. Over the next three decades, he asked writers, musicians, athletes, politicians, and others to sit for him—many of them central figures in the Harlem Renaissance. Harlem Heroes: Photographs by Carl Van Vechten features thirty-nine images of men and women who not only fueled the New Negro movement, but also transformed the broader American culture—including James Baldwin, Ossie Davis, W.E.B. Du Bois, Ella Fitzgerald, Althea Gibson, Langston Hughes, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Bessie Smith, and others. The book includes an essay by John Jacob and biographical sketches for each sitter.

Crosscurrents: Modern Art from the Sam Rose and Julie Walters Collection

In eighty-eight striking paintings and sculptures, Crosscurrents captures modernism as it moved from early abstractions by O’Keeffe, to Picasso and Pollock in midcentury, to pop riffs on contemporary culture by Roy Lichtenstein, Wayne Thiebaud, and Tom Wesselmann—all illustrating the complexity and energy of a distinctly American modernism.

American Louvre

Designed by James Renwick Jr. in 1858, the building that houses the Renwick Gallery was the first in the United States conceived expressly as a public art museum. Renwick’s elegant design, modeled on the Louvre in Paris, prompted critics to call the new gallery the “American Louvre.” Written by architectural historian Charles J. Robertson, American Louvre recounts the colorful story of this National Historic Landmark and the influential men who shaped its history.

WONDER

WONDER celebrates the renovation and reopening of the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery with an immersive web of magic. Nine major contemporary artists, including Maya Lin, Tara Donovan, Leo Villareal, Patrick Dougherty, and Janet Echelman, were invited to take over the Renwick’s galleries, transforming the entire museum into a mind-expanding cabinet of wonders. Mundane materials such as index cards, marbles, sticks, and thread are conjured into strange new worlds that demonstrate the qualities uniting these artists: a sensitivity to site and the ways we experience place, a passion for making and materiality, and a desire to provoke awe.

Modern Masters: American Abstraction at Midcentury

Modern Masters: American Abstraction at Midcentury features more than thirty artists who transformed American art in the years after World War II. Seventy artworks from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, reproduced in full color, convey the dynamism and raw energy of the period. Photographs and biographical details provide intimate portraits of Richard Diebenkorn, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell, Robert Motherwell, Louise Nevelson, and others who explored powerful color and the nuance of line.

Contemporary Folk Art: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Contemporary Folk Art: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum commemorates “Treasures to Go,” a series of eight exhibitions from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which toured the nation through 2002. The Principal Financial Group is a proud partner in presenting these treasures to the American people.

Scenes of American Life: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Prelinger
Scenes of American Life: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum commemorates Treasures to Go, a series of eight exhibitions from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, touring the nation through 2002. The Principal Financial Group is a proud partner in presenting these treasures to the American people.

Young America: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Young America: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum commemorates “Treasures to Go,” a series of eight exhibitions from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, which toured the nation through 2002. The Principal Financial Group is a proud partner in presenting these treasures to the American people.

The Gilded Age: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Gilded Age: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum commemorates Treasures to Go, a series of eight exhibitions from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, touring the nation through 2002. The Principal Financial Group is a proud partner in presenting these treasures to the American people.

Skilled Work : American Craft in the Renwick Gallery

Published as a celebration of the Renwick Gallery’s twenty-fifth anniversary, this book masterfully illustrates the intellectual and tactile excitement found in American crafts. Photographs of exquisite clarity give this volume an optical effervescence. Each fiber, each woodgrain, each coil of rope has depth and dimension that tempt us to touch.

Variations on America: Masterworks from American Art Forum Collections

The American Art Forum, a small group of collectors from across the United States, was begun twenty years ago by Charles C. Eldredge while he was director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Now, as part of the Forum’s twentieth anniversary celebrations, the Smithsonian American Art Museum is proud to offer Variations on America, a volume of seventy-two treasured artworks collected by members of the Forum. Chief curator Eleanor Jones Harvey, deputy chief curator George Gurney, senior curators Virginia M. Mecklenburg and Joann Moser, former Luce Foundation Center curator George Speer, and curatorial assistant Elaine Yau present significant and lively contributions about these works.

Going West! Quilts and Community

Often called the great corridor of America’s westward expansion, in the nineteenth century the Great Platte River Road carried wagon trains and settlers through Nebraska Territory to points farther west. In jumping-off places such as Omaha and along the Missouri River, settlers from the East Coast as well as immigrants from Europe packed wagons with the essentials for the long journey. And often tucked among the essentials were quilts for bedding, cherished reminders of home and loved ones, stitched with care.

Studio Furniture

The eighty-four pieces of studio furniture owned by the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum constitute one of the largest assemblages of American studio furniture in the nation. Three former administrators—Lloyd Herman, Michael Monroe, and Kenneth Trapp—amassed a seminal collection that samples studio furniture’s great diversity. From the carefully crafted stools of Tage Frid to the art deco chest painted by Rob Womack, from the one-of-a-kind Ghost Clock sculpture by Wendell Castle to the limited production stool by David Ebner, the collection highlights the astonishing variety of the American studio furniture movement.

1934: A New Deal for Artists

During the Great Depression, president Franklin Delano Roosevelt promised a “new deal for the American people,” initiating government programs to foster economic recovery. Roosevelt’s pledge to help “the forgotten man” also embraced America’s artists. The Public Works of Art Project (PWAP) enlisted artists to capture “the American Scene” in works of art that would embellish public buildings across the country. Although it lasted less than one year, from December 1933 to June 1934, the PWAP provided employment for thousands of artists, giving them an important role in the country’s recovery. Their legacy, captured in more than fifteen thousand artworks, helped “the American Scene” become America seen.

Metropolitan Lives: The Ashcan Artists and Their New York

The six artists whose earthy, urban subjects led critics to call them the “Ashcan School” are featured in this book. The authors document how closely the work of these artists reflected current events and social concerns at the turn of the century. Newspaper clippings, postcards, and other ephemera of the period are reproduced.

Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow

Marsh, Joanna; Avery, Kevin; and Lovejoy, Thomas
Inspired by nineteenth-century landscape painting, science-fiction film, and firsthand study, Rockman’s paintings proffer a vision of the natural world that is equal parts fantasy and empirical fact. Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow is the first major survey of the artist’s work and features forty-seven artworks that trace his career from Pond’s Edge (1986) to The Reef (2009), with its timely reminder of the fragile ecosystems that lie just out of sight but never out of danger. This vividly illustrated volume highlights the artist’s unique synthesis of art and science, along with a meticulous attention to detail and striking use of color. The compelling mix of realism, scientific detail, and environmental polemic results in art that is both a demand for action and an elegy for what has been lost.

The Great American Hall of Wonders

The Great American Hall of Wonders is a vividly illustrated survey of the American ingenuity that energized all aspects of nineteenth-century society, from the painting of landscapes and scenes of everyday life to the planning of scientific expedition and the development of new mechanical devices. Each chapter comprises an essay and a selection from more than 120 illustrations. These include works by pre-eminent painters Winslow Homer, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Church and Thomas Cole.

In Search of the Corn Queen: American Scene series, No.1

Greta Pratt returns to the county fairs of her childhood in the American Midwest, creating photographs that capture the spirit of rural life in the region. Karal Ann Marling’s introduction provides fascinating insights into Pratt’s images of county-fair rituals and the regional culture that inspires these gatherings.

Spanish Harlem ("American Scene" series, No. 3)

Joseph Rodriguez’s color photographs bring the reader inside Spanish Harlem, where he documents not only the grim realities of drug abuse, AIDS, and crime in New York’s oldest barrio, but also its vibrant street life. Ed Vega’s essay introduces the reader to his neighborhood in Spanish Harlem, tracing its past and present.

Nation Building

Nation Building: Craft and Contemporary American Culture brings together twenty voices leading the current dialogue about critical craft studies. The authors, who hail from every point of the ideological compass, examine the state of craft aesthetics, craft’s role in education and technology, its relation to war and industry, and its expressions in culture. This fully illustrated volume marks a turning point in conceptions of the field, placing it within a discussion of community, material practice, and the American experience.