Howard

Blog Posts

Ryders on the Storm: Celebrating the Art of Albert Pinkham Ryder

Before Betsy Broun retired from the helm of the Smithsonian American Art Museum last fall, she gave a talk where she revealed her top ten works (ok, seventeen works) of art in the collection, beginning with Albert Pinkham Ryder's Jonah. Ryder, who died one hundred years ago today, was an artist close to Broun's heart and the subject of a book she published in 1989.

Missed Connections for Valentine's Day

At SAAM, we're always connecting people with our artworks. On Valentine's Day, we thought we'd explore one of the more interesting sections of many print and online publications these days: the often poetic, always interesting urban haiku of missed connections. Please check out our Instagram feed for more artful missed connections.

Harlem Heroes and Black History Month

The cultural efflorescence that was the Harlem Renaissance is captured in a series of portraits currently on view in the exhibition Harlem Heroes: Photographs by Carl Van Vechten.

Seeing Things (17): Art and Healing

This is the seventeenth in a series of personal observations about how people experience and explore museums. Take a look at Howard's other blog posts about seeing things in a museum.

Gene Davis: The Cool Guy of Hot Beat

ene Davis, a journalist before he was a painter, knew the power of words. He spoke his wise and sometimes ornery mind, aware of the momentary impact and the eventual documentation of his life and career. This explains why his own bon mots (not the curators') flank most of the 15 paintings—all permutations of the stripe—in Gene Davis: Hot Beat, on view through April 2.

New Acquisitions: Self-Taught Art from the Margaret Z. Robson Collection

SAAM has acquired nearly one-hundred works of self-taught art from the collection of Margaret Z. Robson. The paintings, drawings, and sculptures were created by forty-eight artists including James Castle, Thornton Dial Sr., Judith Scott, and Bill Traylor. The Robson gift comprises the largest acquisition of self-taught artworks in 20 years and reaffirms the museum's deep and lasting commitment to this area of artistic endeavor.

Director's Choice: Who Made the Cut, Part II

n honor of Elizabeth "Betsy" Broun's nearly thirty years at the helm of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and her imminent retirement, Broun spoke to a full house at the McEvoy Auditorium this past October, revealing insights and personal observations about her favorite works of art in SAAM's collection. And since she's the director, her Top Ten contains eighteen artworks. Last month, we posted the first part of her "Top Ten." Today, we are posting the rest on her list of favorites.

Director's Choice: Who Made the Cut?

In honor of Elizabeth "Betsy" Broun's thirty years at the helm of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and her imminent retirement, Broun spoke to a full house last month at the McEvoy Auditorium, revealing insights and personal observations about her favorite works of art in SAAM's collection.

Best of Both Worlds: Isamu Noguchi

Isamu Noguchi, Archaic/Modern opens today, a celebration of the renowned sculptor who often found inspiration in ancient art and architecture, including Egyptian pyramids and Buddhist temples, Zen gardens and American Indian burial mounds.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Self-Taught Art

In honor of the renovation and reinstallation of SAAM’s galleries for folk and self-taught art on the first floor, four specialists in the field came together to address the perceptions and practice of folk and self-taught artists, each from a unique vantage point. The speakers joined Leslie Umberger, SAAM's curator of folk and self-taught art and emcee for the evening, in a discussion on the unique position of these out-of-the-ordinary makers of art.

Deborah Butterfield: Horsepower

Deborah Butterfield was speaking to a full house at SAAM's McEvoy Auditorium as the second speaker in this year's Clarice Smith Distinguished Lecture Series. During the course of the evening, she led us through four decades of her work.

Reenvisioned Galleries of Folk and Self-Taught Art

The Smithsonian American Art Museum's ground floor galleries of Folk and Self-Taught Art reopen today with a compelling, new installation that features more than 120 objects, including 59 new acquisitions. These include works by artists such as Emery Blagdon, Ralph Fasanella, Clementine Hunter, Eddy Mumma, and Achilles Rizzoli. These join visitor favorites by Thornton Dial, Lonnie Holley, Martín Ramírez and Jon Serl.

Knock Wood: The Future of Furniture is in their Hands

Furniture "affects every single aspect of who we are and what we do though we don't always acknowledge that," said Nora Atkinson, the Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft at the Renwick Gallery, in her introductory remarks at the recent Maloof Symposium, Furniture and the Future. A stellar group of experts, designers, artists, and makers looked closely at the changing role of studio furniture, in light of the brave new world of digital technologies and marketplaces.

Glass Gardens: Agnes Northrop Designs for Louis C. Tiffany

To kick off the 2016 season of the Clarice Smith Distinguished Lectures in American Art, scholar Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Curator of American Decorative Arts at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, brought us into the close circle of Louis Comfort Tiffany's art glass studio.
Howard on September 27, 2016

African American Artworks at SAAM

The Smithsonian American Art Museum boasts more than two thousand works of art in its collection by more than two-hundred African American artists. Covering centuries of creative expression, the artworks explore themes that reflect the African American experience in paintings, sculpture, prints, textiles and photographs.
Howard on September 15, 2016

Material World: The Renwick Invitational

This year's Renwick Invitational features the work of four craft artists—Steven Young Lee, Kristen Morgin, Jennifer Trask and Norwood Viviano—who share a common interest in the exploration of materiality, as well as the processes of transformation, decay, and rebirth.

Carl Van Vechten: Harlem Heroes

When author and social commentator Carl Van Vechten focused his camera on the African American community of writers, artists, singers, athletes, and politicians in Harlem beginning in the 1930s, it was an eye-opening experience.

Bearing Witness: Martin Puryear's Monumental Public Art

SAAM's Curator of Sculpture, Karen Lemmey, recently joined forces with the GSA Art in Architecture Program's fine arts specialist Bill Caine to lead a "walk and talk" discussion about the importance of public art. Since 1972, the Art in Architecture program has reserved a small piece of the construction budget for new federal buildings around the country for public works of art. In nearly forty-five years, the program has commissioned five-hundred artworks, including Martin Puryear's Bearing Witness, the focus of this hour-plus program.

Some Strings Attached: the willful marionette at SAAM

SAAM's annual birthday celebration honoring the legacy of media pioneer Nam June Paik—an artist known for his interest in robotics and humanizing technology—featured artists Lilla LoCurto and Bill Outcault. Their work, the three-foot tall the willful marionette was built from 3-D scanned images of a human figure. It addresses what the artists refer to as "the frailty of the human body."