Howard

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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."

Light Fantastic: Gabriel Dawe in Conversation

The final program in the WONDER series of artist talks featured Gabriel Dawe in conversation with Nora Atkinson, the Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft at the Renwick Gallery. Dawe's Plexus A1, one of the nine room-filling installations commissioned for the exhibition, spins a new riff on the theme of alchemy: it turns thread into light.

Making Connections at the Renwick: Everything Clicks

The Renwick's reinstallation of more than eighty objects from its permanent collection—Connections: Contemporary Craft at the Renwick Gallery—brings together artists working in media as diverse as vinyl, denim, quartz, and glass.

Romaine Brooks: Body of Work

In honor of the current exhibition "The Art of Romaine Brooks," eminent scholars Cassandra Langer, Sylvia Kahan, and Helen Langa, joined SAAM's chief curator Virginia Mecklenburg, for a discussion that shed new light onto the artist's life and times.

Romaine Brooks: Gray Matters

The paintings of Romaine Brooks have always made me want to learn more about the artist. The exhibition, "The Art of Romaine Brooks" has some answers.

Throwback Thursday: Seats of Power (and an Occasional Settee)

It's Throwback Thursday! And we at Eye Level have decided it's a great opportunity to bring back some of our interesting posts from the past. With the presidential election in full swing, we thought you might be interested in seeing some of the decorative arts our next President might encounter in the White House.

Curator's Travel Journal: In Rufino Tamayo's Footsteps (6)

E. Carmen Ramos, curator of Latino Art at SAAM, was recently in Mexico to research her upcoming exhibition on the acclaimed 20th-century Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo’s lengthy residence and production in New York City. This is the sixth and final post Carmen scribed from the road. The exhibition Tamayo: The New York Years will open at SAAM in October 2017. Read all of Carmen's notes from her research trip.

Patrick Dougherty: Branching Out

"Everything you can do with a pencil you can do with a stick," artist Patrick Dougherty remarked the other evening at a talk in the Renwick's Grand Salon, as he likened his craft to the art of drawing.

Seeing Things (16): Time and the Photographic Image

Photography has a way with time. Two works of art, both photographic series currently on view, speak to each other in a poignant dialogue without words. In the Lincoln Gallery, on SAAM's third floor, Nicholas Nixon's The Brown Sisters can be seen on the wall adjacent to Camilo José Vergara's series 10828 S. Avalon Blvd., LA, a work whose compression is echoed in the title's insistence on abbreviations.