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The Archives of American Art is the largest collection of primary resources documenting the history of the visual arts in the United States. More than 20 million items of original materialare housed in the Archives' research centers in Washington, D.C. and New York City.
The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington or D.C., is the capital of the United States. Founded after the American Revolution as the seat of government of the newly independent country, Washington was named after George Washington, first President of the United States and Founding Father. As the seat of the United States federal government and several international organizations, Washington is an important world political capital. The city is also one of the most visited cities in the world, with more than 20 million tourists annually.
The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States and thus also in the state of New York. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.
As a research center within the Smithsonian Institution, the Archives houses materials related to a variety of American visual art and artists. All regions of the country and numerous eras and art movements are represented. Among the significant artists represented in its collection are Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Marcel Breuer, Rockwell Kent, John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, John Trumbull, and Alexander Calder. In addition to the papers of artists, the Archives collects documentary material from art galleries, art dealers, and art collectors. It also houses a collection of over 2,000 art-related oral history interviews, and publishes a bi-yearly publication, the Archives of American Art Journal , which showcases collections within the Archives.
The Smithsonian Institution, founded on August 10, 1846 "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge," is a group of museums and research centers administered by the Government of the United States. The institution is named after its founding donor, British scientist James Smithson. Originally organized as the "United States National Museum," that name ceased to exist as an administrative entity in 1967.
Paul Jackson Pollock was an American painter and a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement.
Lenore "Lee" Krasner was an American abstract expressionist painter, with a strong speciality in collage, who was married to Jackson Pollock. This somewhat overshadowed her contribution at the time, though there was much cross-pollination between their two styles. Krasner’s training, influenced by George Bridgman and Hans Hofmann, was the more formalized, especially in the depiction of human anatomy, and this enriched Pollock’s more intuitive and unstructured output.
The Archives of American Art was founded in Detroit in 1954 by then Director of the Detroit Institute of Art, E.P. Richardson, and art collector Lawrence A. Fleischman. Concerned about the lack of material relating to American art, the two organized the Archives of American Art with the support of scholars and businessmen. Their intention was to collect materials related to American artists, art dealers, institutions and writers, and to allow scholars and writers to access the holdings.In 1970 the Archives became part of the Smithsonian Institution, moving its processing center and storage facility from Detroit to the Old Patent Office Building in Washington, D.C.
Detroit is the largest and most populous city in the U.S. state of Michigan, the largest United States city on the United States–Canada border, and the seat of Wayne County. The municipality of Detroit had a 2017 estimated population of 673,104, making it the 23rd-most populous city in the United States. The metropolitan area, known as Metro Detroit, is home to 4.3 million people, making it the second-largest in the Midwest after the Chicago metropolitan area. Regarded as a major cultural center, Detroit is known for its contributions to music and as a repository for art, architecture and design.
Visual art of the United States or American art is visual art made in the United States or by U.S. artists. Before colonization there were many flourishing traditions of Native American art, and where the Spanish colonized Spanish Colonial architecture and the accompanying styles in other media were quickly in place. Early colonial art on the East Coast initially relied on artists from Europe, with John White the earliest example. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, artists primarily painted portraits, and some landscapes in a style based mainly on English painting. Furniture-makers imitating English styles and similar craftsmen were also established in the major cities, but in the English colonies, locally made pottery remained resolutely utilitarian until the 19th century, with fancy products imported.
The historic Old Patent Office Building in Washington, D.C. covers an entire city block defined by F and G Streets and 7th and 9th Streets NW in Chinatown. It served as one of the earliest United States Patent Office buildings.
Currently the collection and offices are located at the Victor Building, on 9th Street NW, only a few blocks away from the Old Patent Office Building. [ page needed ] Every year the Archives honors individual contributions to the American art community with the Archives of American Art Medal and art historians with the Lawrence A. Fleischman Award for Scholarly Excellence in the Field of American Art History. These awards are presented at the Archives' annual benefit and have been rewarded to Mark di Suvero, Chuck Close, John Wilmerding and others.
Marco Polo "Mark" di Suvero is an abstract expressionist sculptor and 2010 National Medal of Arts recipient.
Charles Thomas "Chuck" Close is an American painter, artist and photographer who achieved fame as a photorealist, through his massive-scale portraits. Close often paints abstract portraits of himself and others, which hang in collections internationally. Close also creates photo portraits using a very large format camera. Even though a catastrophic spinal artery collapse in 1988 left him severely paralyzed, he has continued to paint.
In 2011, the Archives of American Art became the first Smithsonian business unit to work directly with Wikipedia through the Wikipedia Galleries, Libraries, and Museums project, starting by appointing the first Smithsonian Wikipedian in Residence, Sarah Stierch.
Upon the founding of the Archives, all collections, whether loaned or donated to the Archives, were duplicated on microfilm, allowing the Archives to offer easy access to its collections nationwide and to establish archival databases in New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, Detroit, and at the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco.Today's affiliates consist of the DeYoung, Boston Public Library, the Amon Carter Museum and The Huntington Library. The Archives also offers microfilm for interlibrary loan at no charge. Microfilm is no longer being produced at the Archives as it has been superseded by digitization. With funding from the Terra Foundation for American Art Digitization Program, the Archives has fully digitized numerous collections, which are accessible on their website. In April, 2011, the Archives received a second Terra grant of $3 million to fund another five years of digitization and technological developments, which began in 2005 with a $3.6 million grant from Terra.
Boston is the capital and most populous city of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States. The city proper covers 48 square miles (124 km2) with an estimated population of 685,094 in 2017, making it also the most populous city in New England. Boston is the seat of Suffolk County as well, although the county government was disbanded on July 1, 1999. The city is the economic and cultural anchor of a substantially larger metropolitan area known as Greater Boston, a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) home to a census-estimated 4.8 million people in 2016 and ranking as the tenth-largest such area in the country. As a combined statistical area (CSA), this wider commuting region is home to some 8.2 million people, making it the sixth-largest in the United States.
San Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is the cultural, commercial, and financial center of Northern California. San Francisco is the 13th-most populous city in the United States, and the fourth-most populous in California, with 884,363 residents as of 2017. It covers an area of about 46.89 square miles (121.4 km2), mostly at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it the second-most densely populated large US city, and the fifth-most densely populated U.S. county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. San Francisco is also part of the fifth-most populous primary statistical area in the United States, the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area.
The Boston Public Library is a municipal public library system in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, founded in 1848. The Boston Public Library is also the Library for the Commonwealth of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; all adult residents of the commonwealth are entitled to borrowing and research privileges, and the library receives state funding. The Boston Public Library contains approximately 24 million volumes, and electronic resources, making it the third-largest public library in the United States behind only the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library. In fiscal year 2014, the library held over 10,000 programs, all free to the public, and lent 3.7 million materials.
The Archives relies heavily on grants and private donations to fund the archival processing and care of collections. In 2009 the Archives received a $213,315 grant from the Leon Levy Foundation to process the André Emmerich Gallery records and a $100,000 gift from the Kress Foundation to complete the digitization of the Jacques Seligmann & Company records. In 2009 the Archives acquired 88 collections totaling 717 linear feet.
The Archives holds a unique collection of material from notable artists, dealers, critics and collectors. While papers and documents make up a large portion of the Archives, more unique objects have been acquired over the years. These include a bird nest and a Kewpie doll from the collection of artist Joseph Cornell; painter George Luks' death mask; and a cast iron model car that belonged to Franz Kline.The earliest letter in the collection was written by John Smibert in 1743, in which Smibert describes to his dealer his theories about the future of art in America.
The Archives maintain over 50 paper collections of African American artists. Subjects covered in these personal papers include the expatriate experience, racism within the arts, and the Federal Art Project. The collection includes the sketchbooks of Palmer Hayden, Horace Pippin's illustrated journal of his military service during World War I, and photographs of Alma Thomas. Other notable collections represent Charles Alston, Hughie Lee-Smith, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden and Henry Ossawa Tanner.
Over 100 individuals and organizations are represented in the Archives' Latin American art collection. Topics range from Mexican muralism to Surrealism, New Deal art patronage and the Chicano Movement. Notable collections include the diary of Carlos Lopez, the sketchbooks of Emilio Sanchez, source material for Mel Ramos and research materials from Esther McCoy relating to Mexican architecture. They also maintain oral histories starting in 1964.
Painter, author and illustrator Rockwell Kent donated his collection in 1969. It contained over 60,000 letters, notes, sketches, manuscripts, photographs and business records covering 70 years. One month later his house burned to the ground and Kent was quoted as stating that he had wished he had donated the entire house to the Archives.
In 2007, gallery owner Leo Castelli's family donated his papers to the Archives. It took three years to organize the collection of more than 400 linear feet. The collection consists of the sales of every artwork sold by the gallery during Castelli's lifetime, published reviews of the gallery's exhibits, photographs, and correspondence with the many artists he represented, which included, among others, Roy Lichtenstein, Ellsworth Kelly, and Andy Warhol.
In 1958, the Archives of American Art started an oral history program with base support from the Ford Foundation and continued with support from New York State Council on the Arts, Pew Charitable Trust, the Mark Rothko Foundation, and the Pasadena Art Alliance. Today the Archives houses nearly 2,000 oral history interviews relating to American art.The program continues today with funding from the Terra Foundation of American Art, the Brown Foundation of Houston, the Widgeon Point Charitable Foundation, the Art Dealers Association of America. Donor Nanette L. Laitman funded The Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts In America enabling over 150 interviews with American craft artists.
In 2009 the Archives received two major grants to further their oral history program: a $75,000 grant from the A G Foundation which established the Elizabeth Murray Oral History of Women in the Visual Arts Project destined to fund oral history interviews with important women within the American art community),and a $250,000 grant from Save America's Treasures to assist with the digitization of approximately 4,000 recordings and the preservation of 6,000 hours of sound.
The Archives mounts rotating exhibitions of its collections at the Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture in Washington, D.C. Exhibitions have included Of the Moment: A Video Sampler from the Archives of American Art, and Hard Times, 1929-1939, which examined the Great Depression's impact on American artists.In 2012, the Archives celebrated the centennial birth of Jackson Pollock with an exhibition of Pollock's archives and artwork.
The Archives of American Art is one of nine research centers of the Smithsonian Institution. It is managed by a director, nominated by a board of trustees. Governance includes an executive committee, a council, and emeriti members.
To illuminate scholarship of the history of art in America through collecting, preserving, and making available for study the documentation of this country's rich artistic legacy.
The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art form the Smithsonian Institution's national museums of Asian art in the United States. The Freer and Sackler galleries house the largest Asian art research library in the country. Founded in 1982, the Gallery is named after Arthur M. Sackler, who donated approximately 1,000 objects and $4 million to the building of the museum. Located on the south side of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and being physically connected to the Freer Gallery of Art, 96% of the museum is located underground underneath the Enid A. Haupt Garden.
The Federal Art Project (1935–43) was a New Deal program to fund the visual arts in the United States. Under national director Holger Cahill, it was one of five Federal Project Number One projects sponsored by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and the largest of the New Deal art projects. It was created not as a cultural activity but as a relief measure to employ artists and artisans to create murals, easel paintings, sculpture, graphic art, posters, photography, theatre scenic design, and arts and crafts. The WPA Federal Art Project established more than 100 community art centers throughout the country, researched and documented American design, commissioned a significant body of public art without restriction to content or subject matter, and sustained some 10,000 artists and craft workers during the Great Depression.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum is a museum in Washington, D.C., part of the Smithsonian Institution. Together with its branch museum, the Renwick Gallery, SAAM holds one of the world's largest and most inclusive collections of art, from the colonial period to the present, made in the United States. The museum has more than 7,000 artists represented in the collection. Most exhibitions take place in the museum's main building, the old Patent Office Building, while craft-focused exhibitions are shown in the Renwick Gallery.
Charles Sheeler was an American painter and commercial photographer. He is recognized as one of the founders of American modernism, developing a style of painting known as Precisionism and becoming one of the master photographers of the 20th century.
Rudy Autio was an American sculptor, best known for his figurative ceramic vessels.
Betty Parsons was an American artist, art dealer, and collector known for her early promotion of Abstract Expressionism.
Arthur Polonsky is a figurative painter, draughtsman and educator, known for his explorations of light, water, flight and similarly lyrical motifs that, in esoteric and unsettling ways, allude to myth, fantasy, music, the Bible, or the poetry of Symbolist and Modernist poets like Rimbaud and Rilke. "The dialogue between color, texture and subject is always alive" the late artist Barbara Swan Fink says of his work. His drawings, in particular, "have the excitement of a direct response to a subject, a daring use of line or tone, a sense of charged intensity. His portrait drawings not only have likeness but express a mood that is part artist, part model."
Purvis Young was an American artist from the Overtown neighborhood of Miami, Florida. Young's work, often a blend of collage and painting, utilizes found objects and the experience of African Americans in the south. A self-taught artist, Young gained recognition as a cult contemporary self-taught artist, with a collectors' following including the likes of Jane Fonda, Damon Wayans, Jim Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, among others. In 2006 a feature documentary entitled Purvis of Overtown was produced about his life and work. His work is found in the collections of the American Folk Art Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the High Museum of Art, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among others. Visit Purvis Young Museum, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In 2018, he was inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.
The National Anthropological Archives is a collection of historical and contemporary documents maintained by the Smithsonian Institution, which document the history of anthropology and the world's peoples and cultures. It is located in the Smithsonian's Museum Support Center in Suitland, Maryland and is part of the Department of Anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History.
Margaret Frances "Peggy" Bacon was an American printmaker, illustrator, painter and writer. Bacon was known for her humorous and ironic etchings and drawings, as well as for her satirical caricatures of prominent personalities in the late 1920s and 1930s.
The aim of a caricature is to heighten and intensify to the point of absurdity all the subject's most striking attributes; a caricature should not necessarily stop at ridiculing the features but should include in its extravagant appraisal whatever of the figure may be needed to explain the personality, the whole drawing imparting a spicy and clairvoyant comment upon the subject's peculiarities.
Mary Lee Hu is an American artist, goldsmith, and college level educator known for using textile techniques to create intricate woven wire jewelry.
Smithsonian Libraries (SIL), formerly known as Smithsonian Institution Libraries, is a library system comprising 20 branch libraries serving the various Smithsonian Institution museums and research centers, as well as central support services which include a Book Conservation Laboratory and an Imaging Center. The Libraries serve Smithsonian Institution staff as well as the scholarly community and general public with information and reference support. Its collections number over 1.5 million volumes including 40,000 rare books and 2,000 manuscripts. The Libraries also holds the United States' largest trade literature collection, which includes over 300,000 commercial catalogs dating from the early nineteenth century and representing more than 30,000 companies.
Michael Loew was an American Abstract Expressionist artist who was born in New York City.
William Schaus was an American entomologist who became known for his major contribution to the knowledge and description of new species of the Neotropical Lepidoptera.
Tom Joyce is a sculptor and MacArthur Fellow known for his work in forged steel and cast iron. Using skills and technology acquired through early training as a blacksmith, Joyce addresses the environmental, political, and social implications of using iron in his work. Exhibited internationally since the 1980s, his work is included in 30-plus public collections in the U.S. and abroad. Joyce works from studios in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and since 2012, in Brussels, Belgium, producing sculpture, drawings, prints, photographs, and videos that reference themes of iron in the human body, iron in industry, and iron in nature.
Julian Edwin Levi (1900–1982) was an American painter. He was a 1968 Resident of the American Academy in Rome. He should not be confused with the New York art dealer Julien Levy, who introduced Salvador Dalí to American patrons at his Julien Levy Gallery.
John Paul Miller was an American jewellery designer and goldsmith, who also produced films, photographs and paintings. Stephen Harrison, decorative arts curator at the Cleveland Museum of Art, compares Miller's work with that of René Lalique and Louis Comfort Tiffany.
Paul J. Smith is an arts administrator, curator, and artist living in New York. Director Emeritus of the Museum of Arts and Design, Smith has been professionally involved with the art, craft, and design fields since the early 1950s and is closely associated with the twentieth-century "studio craft movement" in the United States. He joined the staff of the American Craftsmen's Council in 1957, and was appointed Director of the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in 1963. In September 1987, after 30 years with ACC, he assumed the position of Director Emeritus to provide independent consulting for museums, arts organizations, and collectors.
Peter Bradley is an American painter and sculptor and former art dealer. He attended the Society of Arts and Crafts in Detroit and subsequently Yale University where he left prior to finishing the program. His work was included in the 1973 Whitney Biennial. As an art dealer he was the associate director of the Perls Galleries from 1968 until 1975. He later donated his papers from this period to the Archives of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution. In 1971 while associate director of the Perls Galleries, Bradley curated the "Deluxe Show" under the auspices of the famed de Menil family in Houston, Texas considered to be one of the first racially integrated art exhibitions in the United States.
Melvin Joel Zabarsky is an American figurative painter who creates representational work in the narrative tradition. Known for a bright, bold palette, his work often explores political, historical and cultural themes to surreal and realist effect. In a six-decade career marked by several distinct phases, Zabarsky's imaginative use of color, formal experimentation and commitment to narrative organization in both traditional and avant garde styles are hallmarks of his work. In an interview with the British philosophers Donald and Monica Skilling, he said, "I'm discovering history, or a narrative, within a painting, as I go along."
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