Tag: smithsonian american art museum

Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage – Washington DC

Annie Leibovitz, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, 2009, © Annie Leibovitz. From Pilgrimage (Random House, 2011)

From Jan. 20, 2012, through May 20, 2012 – Smithsonian American Art Museum

“Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage” charts a new direction for one of America’s best-known living photographers. Unlike her staged and carefully lit portraits made on assignment for magazines and advertising clients, the photographs in this exhibition were taken simply because Leibovitz was moved by the subject. The images speak in a commonplace language to the photographer’s curiosity about the world she inherited, spanning landscapes both dramatic and quiet, interiors of living rooms and bedrooms, and objects that are talismans of past lives.
The exhibition, which includes more than 70 photographs taken between April 2009 and May 2011, will be on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum from Jan. 20, 2012, through May 20, 2012. The works on display in the exhibition will be acquired by the museum for its permanent collection.
The exhibition will travel following its presentation in Washington, D.C. A listing of venues will be available on the museum’s website as they are confirmed. “Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage” is organized for the Smithsonian American Art Museum by guest curator Andy Grundberg, former New
York Times photography critic and associate provost and dean of undergraduate studies at the Corcoran College of Art + Design. Joann Moser, senior curator, is the coordinating curator at the museum. The prints were made by David Adamson of Adamson Editions in Washington, D.C.

“Annie Leibovitz’s new project Pilgrimage captures some of the best aspects of the American spirit through individuals who shaped how we see the world and the places that define them, from Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln to Emily Dickinson, Annie Oakley and Georgia O’Keeffe,” said Elizabeth Broun, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “These images resonate with other works in the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s collection, so I am delighted that we are acquiring a set for the permanent collection.”

“From the beginning, when I was watching my children stand mesmerized over Niagara Falls, this project was an exercise in renewal,” said Leibovitz. “It taught me to see again.” “These pictures may surprise even those who know Leibovitz’s photography well,” said Grundberg. “They are more intimate, personal and self-reflective than her widely published work, combining the emotional power of her recent black-and-white portraits of her family with an awareness of her own cultural legacy. All photographs are in a sense intimations of mortality, but the pictures of ‘Pilgrimage’ make this connection explicit.”

The pictures, although there are no people in them, are in a certain sense portraits of subjects that have shaped Leibovitz’s distinctly American view of her cultural inheritance. Visiting the homes of iconic figures, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Pete Seeger and Elvis Presley, as well as places such as Niagara Falls, Walden Pond, Old Faithful and the Yosemite Valley, she let her instincts and intuitions guide her to related subjects—hence the title “Pilgrimage.” Some of the pictures focus on the remaining traces of photographers and artists she admires, such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Ansel Adams and Robert Smithson. “Pilgrimage” is an evocative and deeply personal statement by a photographer whose career now spans more than 40 years, encompassing a broad range of subject matter, history and stylistic influences. Together the pictures show Leibovitz at the height of her powers, unfettered by the demands of her career and pondering how photographs, including her own, shape a narrative of history that informs the present.

Museum Hours

Made in Chicago: The Koffler Collection – Washington, DC

Ray Yoshida, Partial Evidences II, 1973, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the S. W. and B. M. Koffler Foundation

August 12, 2011 to January 2, 2012 – Smithsonian American Art Museum

Made in Chicago: The Koffler Collection features twenty-six paintings, sculpture, and works on paper from 1960 to 1980, including works by Roger Brown, Leon Golub, Theodore Halkin, Vera Klement, Ellen Lanyon, Jim Nutt, Ed Paschke, Barry Tinsley, and Ray Yoshida. The artworks are all by Chicago artists from the S. W. and B. M. Koffler Foundation collection, given to the Smithsonian American Art Museum in the late 1970s and early 1980s by Samuel and Blanche Koffler. The Kofflers, avid art collectors in Chicago, formed a foundation in 1971 to purchase art by local artists. A board of five administrators—a painter, a sculptor, a museum director, an art historian, and a critic—all with Chicago connections, determined the acquisitions. Many of the artworks in the installation are typical of the well-known Chicago taste for figurative art. Guest curator Franz Schulze, a Chicago-based art critic, and acting chief curator George Gurney organized the exhibition.

This collection is presented in honor of Blanche Koffler, who passed away in 2010, and Samuel Koffler, who passed away in 1994, and their generous dedication to contemporary art.

George Ault and 1940s America – Washington DC

George Ault, Bright Light at Russell's Corners, 1946, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Lawrence

March 11, 2011 – September 5, 2011 – Smithsonian American Art Museum

During the turbulent 1940s, artist George Ault (1891-1948) created precise yet eerie pictures—works of art that have come to be seen, following his death, as some of the most original paintings made in America in those years. The beautiful geometries of Ault’s paintings make personal worlds of clarity and composure to offset a real world he felt was in crisis.

To Make a World captures a 1940s America that was rendered fragile by the Great Depression and made anxious by a global conflict. Although much has been written about the glorious triumph of the Second World War, what has dimmed over time are memories of the anxious tenor of life on the home front, when the country was far distant from the battlefields and yet profoundly at risk. The exhibition centers on five paintings Ault made between 1943 and 1948 depicting the crossroads of Russell’s Corners in Woodstock, N.Y. The additional twenty-two artists represented in this exhibition include some as celebrated as Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth, while others are scarcely known to today’s art audiences. Taken together, their artworks reveal an aesthetic vein running through 1940s American art that previously has not been identified. From their remote corners of the country, these artists conveyed a still quietude that seems filled with potentialities.

To Make a World brings viewers back into the world of the American 1940s, drawing them in through the least likely of places and spaces: not grand actions, not cataclysmic events, not epoch-making personalities, posters, and headlines, but silent regions where some mystery seems always on the verge of being disclosed.

Museum Hours

Alexis Rockman, A Fable for Tomorrow – Washington D.C.

Alexis Rockman, The Pelican, 2006, oil on wood, Courtesy Elizabeth Schwartz, New York. © Alexis Rockman. Photo courtesy of the artist

From November 19 2010 to May 8 2011 – Smithsonian American Art Museum

Alexis Rockman (b. 1962) has been depicting the natural world with virtuosity and wit for more than two decades. He was one of the first contemporary artists to build his career around exploring environmental issues, from evolutionary biology and genetic engineering to deforestation and climate change. His work expresses deep concerns about the world’s fragile ecosystems and the tension between nature and culture. These concerns are communicated through vivid, even apocalyptic, imagery. Rockman has garnered attention for embracing these issues, as well as for the epic quality of his projects, including several monumentally scaled paintings.
The title of the exhibition, “A Fable for Tomorrow,” is taken from the opening chapter of Rachel Carson’s influential 1962 book Silent Spring. In it, Carson combines two seemingly incompatible literary genres—mythic narrative and factual reportage. Rockman approaches his paintings with a similar intent. He achieves his vision through a synthesis of fantasy and empirical fact, using sources as varied as natural history, botanical illustrations, museum dioramas, science fiction films, realist art traditions dating back to the Renaissance and firsthand field study. The exhibition is organized by Joanna Marsh, The James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art. “Alexis Rockman’s cross-disciplinary approach is well suited to the Smithsonian’s long tradition of embracing science and art as complementary ways of understanding our world,” said Elizabeth Broun, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
“During the past 25 years, Rockman’s art and attitudes have evolved from a focus on the mysteries of nature to the machinations of mankind,” said Marsh. “His artworks demonstrate a steadfast belief in the power of art, literature and film to raise consciousness about key environmental issues. Rockman stands out among the generation of artists who have taken up the mantle of environmental activism for the originality of his vision and the urgency of his message. Through the use of emotionally charged visual ideas—death, decay, ruin and renewal—Rockman has created a stunning body of work that is a reflection of our times and a portent of events to come.”
Throughout his career, Rockman has developed subjects and themes in series. “Alexis Rockman: A Fable for Tomorrow” marks the first time that key paintings from different projects are exhibited together, beginning with the lyrical “Pond’s Edge” (1986), drawn from the artist’s earliest series exploring the field of natural history, to “The Reef” (2009), part of his most recent body of work titled “Half Life,” which combines color-field abstraction and environmental concerns.
The exhibition includes three large-scale paintings that are ambitious turning points in Rockman’s artistic development. “Evolution” (1992), Rockman’s first mural-sized painting, is a panoramic sweep that owes as much to a pop cinema stylistic sensibility as it does to actual prehistory.

Manifest Destiny, 2003–2004 Oil and acrylic wood Courtesy of the Artist and Waqas Wajahat, New York © Alexis Rockman Photo courtesy of the artist

“Manifest Destiny” (2003-2004), commissioned by the Brooklyn Museum of Art, depicts an apocalyptic vision of the Brooklyn waterfront submerged as the result of global warming. “South” (2008), an epic panorama drawn from the artist’s observations while on a trip to Antarctica, documents every aspect of iceberg geology through simultaneous views above and below the water’s surface.
In 1994, Rockman journeyed into the dense South American jungle of Guyana. Several paintings from this series, including “Bromeliad: Kaieteur Falls” (1994), “Kapok Tree” (1995) and “Host and Vector” (1996), are on display in the exhibition. These paintings are distinguished from Rockman’s other work by his decision to invent nothing and paint only the flora and fauna found in the rain forest. Elements in the works recall 19th-century Hudson River school landscapes by John Kensett and the paintings of Martin Johnson Heade. Rockman returned to Guyana in 1998, when his previous interest in field observation was replaced by a fascination with pop-culture representations of ecotourism and the exotic allure of adventure travel. The resulting series, titled “Expedition,” includes paintings such as “The Hammock” (2000), which includes compositional elements that recall classic
science fiction films. Rockman’s “Big Weather” drawings from 2005 to 2008 mark a major stylistic shift toward abstraction. Executed on heavily gessoed sheets of paper, the painted surface is awash in vivid stains, pours, pools and drips. Rockman’s new focus on process is also evident in the artist’s most recent body of work, “Half-Life.” The “Half-Life” paintings, inspired by the techniques of Color Field artist SI-366A-2010 3 Morris Louis (1912-1962), are dominated by large veils of viscous pigment and loose, improvisational brushstrokes.

Museum Hours

Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell – American Art Museum – Washington DC

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

1st floor West, Smithsonian American Art Museum – July 2, 2010 – January 2, 2011
Two of America’s best-known modern filmmakers—George Lucas and Steven Spielberg—recognized a kindred spirit in the artist Norman Rockwell and formed significant collections of his work. Lucas, Spielberg and Rockwell have perpetuated American ideals about love of country, personal honor, and the value of family through their work. With humor and pathos, they have transformed ordinary people and the quotidian incidents of everyday experience into stories that show us our better selves and the values that have sustained Americans through good times and bad. All three share an ability to communicate visually with mass audiences using popular media of their time. Telling Stories is the first major exhibition to explore in-depth the connections between Rockwell’s iconic images of American life and the movies.

This exhibition showcases fifty-seven major Rockwell paintings and drawings from these private collections. A 12-minute film with excerpts from interviews in which Lucas and Spielberg talk about Rockwell and the works in their collections will be shown in the exhibition galleries. Telling Stories is organized by Virginia M. Mecklenburg, senior curator.

A catalogue, published by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Abrams, will accompany the exhibition. Written by Mecklenburg with a contribution by Todd McCarthy, film critic for Variety, the publication will be available for $65 hardcover ($45 softcover) in the museum store, online, and at book stores nationwide.

Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Booz Allen Hamilton has provided generous support as the corporate sponsor of the exhibition. The Museum also gratefully acknowledges the contributions of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.

Museum Hours

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