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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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