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Archives of American Art
Washington, DC
Since 1954, the Archives has collected roughly 16 million letters, photographs, diaries, oral history interviews, sketches, scrapbooks, business records, and other documents that support the study of the history of the visual arts in America.
Interests: art history, archives
Recent Activity
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Curatorial intern Cecelia Vetter looks at the friendship between artist Joseph Cornell and ballerina Tamara Toumanova through correspondence found in the artist’s papers. Tamara Toumanova, Beverly Hills, Calif. letter to Joseph Cornell, Flushing, N.Y., 1942 May 16. Joseph Cornell papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Toumanova enclosed scraps of fabric from her costumes for "Capriccio," "Fire Bird" and "Giselle," as well as a pressed rose from her garden. Tamara Toumanova, Beverly Hills, Calif. letter to Joseph Cornell, Flushing, N.Y., 1942 May 16. Joseph Cornell papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. This summer, as an intern with the Archives... Continue reading
Posted 17 hours ago at Archives of American Art Blog
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Fiber artist Aram Han Sifunetes recently hosted a workshop in conjunction with our exhibition Artist Teacher Organizer: Yasuo Kuniyoshi in the Archives of American Art. In this blog post, she shares parts of her prepared talk from that event and reflects on issues of American–ness, immigration, and labor. She finds points of similarity between her own experiences and those of artist Yasuo Kuniyoshi. Yasuo Kuniyoshi's Alien Registration certificate, 1942 February 18. Yasuo Kuniyoshi papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. The exhibition Artist Teacher Organizer: Yasuo Kuniyoshi in the Archives of American Art shares the intimate story of Kuniyoshi’s experiences... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Archives of American Art Blog
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Undergraduate students from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, who recently visited the Archives of American Art reading room in Washington, D.C., report on their research on Dorothy Strum. Examining original Dorothy Sturm drawings in the St. Mary's College of Maryland Fine Art Collection. L to R: Dr. Joe Lucchesi, Dr. Kelly Quinn, Ellen Dahl, Rebecca Archer, Jessica Rose. Photo: Cristin Cash, used with permission. This semester, we set out to study a series of eight charcoal drawings by Memphis artist Dorothy Sturm (1910–1988) held in St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s Fine Art Collection as part of a research seminar under... Continue reading
Posted Jul 13, 2015 at Archives of American Art Blog
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We continue to celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with a post by archivist Rihoko Ueno, who looks at one of Miné Okubo’s major artistic subjects: the cat. Miné Okubo print of a woman with a cat, 1977. Roy Leeper and Gaylord Hall collection of Miné Okubo papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Miné Okubo painting of a black cat, 1972. Roy Leeper and Gaylord Hall collection of Miné Okubo papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Miné Okubo was an artist, best known for her book Citizen 13660 about her experiences in an internment camp during World War... Continue reading
Posted May 20, 2015 at Archives of American Art Blog
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For Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, archivist Rihoko Ueno examines how the life and work of artist Miné Okubo was affected by being detained in an internment camp during World War II. Our Stall, Tanforan, ca. 1942-1944. Bob Stocksdale and Kay Sekimachi papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Citizen 13660 is the title of artist Miné Okubo’s acclaimed book with illustrations based on her experiences in internment camps during World War II. The number 13660 was also significant in that it was the collective “family number” assigned to Miné Okubo and her younger brother Toku; first at the central... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2015 at Archives of American Art Blog
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Elana Hain, Smithsonian American Art Museum intern, and Mary Savig, curator of manuscripts at the Archives of American Art, explore perspectives of the life of Yasuo Kuniyoshi through oral history interviews with those who knew him. “Artist Teacher Organizer: Yasuo Kuniyoshi in the Archives of American Art” is on view in the Lawrence A. Fleishman Gallery through July 10, 2015. Yasuo Kuniyoshi in his studio, 1950 / Roy Craven, photographer. Miscellaneous photographs collection, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. The exhibition “Artist Teacher Organizer: Yasuo Kunioshi in the Archives of American Art” sheds light on the multi–faceted life of Yasuo... Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2015 at Archives of American Art Blog
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This is the final installment in the Artists on Diaries series curated by artist Mary Temple, in which guest authors comment on contemporary diary practices. — Archives of American Art Blog editors Oscar Bluemner painting diary, 1911 June 12 - 1912 Jan. 30. Oscar Bluemner papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Oscar Bluemner’s painting diary in the show, A Day in the Life: Artists’ Diaries from the Archives of American Art, documents observations of walking tours of New Jersey and Pennsylvania and plans for future paintings. There are landscape and architecture sketches in pen and ink, some in crayon... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2015 at Archives of American Art Blog
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This is the next installment in the Artists on Diaries series curated by artist Mary Temple, in which guest authors will comment on contemporary diary practices. — Archives of American Art Blog editors Bernarda Bryson Shahn appointment book, 1972-2002. Bernarda Bryson Shahn papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. It’s coming toward the 15th. Question––? Will I go to Skowhegan as I have gone each year? ––– I am now 99 ––– I’m perfectly well, although the general belief is – or seems to be ––– that I am well on my way to the –––grave–––? Well maybe not –––... Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2015 at Archives of American Art Blog
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The Ivan C. Karp papers and OK Harris Works of Art gallery records, 1960–2014, recently donated to the Archives of American Art, are highlighted here by deputy director Liza Kirwin and archivist Cathy Gaines. Ivan C. Karp on the steps of the OK Harris Works of Art gallery, 1995 September / Algis Kemezys, photographer. Ivan C. Karp papers and OK Harris Works of Art gallery records, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. © Algis Kemezys The Archives of American Art recently acquired an extraordinary collection—the records and personal papers of Ivan C. Karp, who founded OK Harris Works of Art... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2015 at Archives of American Art Blog
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This is the next installment in the Artists on Diaries series curated by artist Mary Temple, in which guest authors will comment on contemporary diary practices. — Archives of American Art Blog editors Charles Green Shaw diary, 1935 Jun. 01 through Oct. 14. Charles Green Shaw papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. In Charles Green Shaw’s diary from 1963–64 in the exhibit, A Day in the Life: Artists’ Diaries from the Archives of American Art, the artist records detailed but succinct accounts of events throughout the day. These short declarative sentences state the time at which he awoke in... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2015 at Archives of American Art Blog
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This is the next installment in the Artists on Diaries series curated by artist Mary Temple, in which guest authors will comment on contemporary diary practices. — Archives of American Art Blog editors Joseph Cornell diary entry, 1946 May 17. Joseph Cornell papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. In his 1946 diary, Joseph Cornell utilized an advertisement for a bedside lamp that he’d clipped from a publication to evoke the night of dreams he’d had the previous evening (May 16th). The way he communicated the intensity of the dreams, and the sense of the day that followed, underscore the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2015 at Archives of American Art Blog
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This is the next installment in the Artists on Diaries series curated by artist Mary Temple, in which guest authors will comment on contemporary diary practices. — Archives of American Art Blog editors Henry Mosler Civil War diary, 1862. Henry Mosler papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. In the previous blog post of this series, Sarah Schmerler described how her friend Martin Wilner’s work inspired a series of drawings made while riding the New York City Subway. When I asked Wilner to tell us more about his projects, he began by citing Henry Mosler’s diary, on view in the... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2015 at Archives of American Art Blog
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This is the next installment in the Artists on Diaries series curated by artist Mary Temple, in which guest authors will comment on contemporary diary practices. — Archives of American Art Blog editors Bernarda Bryson Shahn appointment book, 1972-2002. Bernarda Bryson Shahn papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Bernarda Bryson Shahn’s appointment book in the show A Day in the Life: Artists’ Diaries from the Archives of American Art, is filled with events. None of the entries are simple reminders of upcoming appointments—nearly every word in the book is adorned, embellished, or festooned in some manner. Throughout, the artist... Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2015 at Archives of American Art Blog
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This is the next installment in the Artists on Diaries series curated by artist Mary Temple, in which guest authors will comment on contemporary diary practices. — Archives of American Art Blog editors William E. L. Bunn diary, 1933. William E. L. Bunn papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Although some artists I’ve spoken to recently do keep proper diaries, most have found other diary–like activities that document their joys, concerns, interests and goings–on. For many, posting updates on social media satisfies that need. Still there are many artists today finding ways of connecting the idea of diary to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 28, 2015 at Archives of American Art Blog
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This is the next installment in the Artists on Diaries series curated by artist Mary Temple, in which guest authors will comment on contemporary diary practices. — Archives of American Art Blog editors Joseph Cornell found beauty in everyday life and everyday objects. His diary entry from July 10, 1948 helps us understand how his incredible outlook enabled him to make the elegant artwork he constructed from bits and pieces of the prosaic. Zoë Sheehan Saldaña is a contemporary artist who makes work concerned with the seemingly unremarkable object. Her notes give us a glimpse into her diligent process of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2015 at Archives of American Art Blog
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This is the next installment in the Artists on Diaries series curated by artist Mary Temple, in which guest authors will comment on contemporary diary practices. — Archives of American Art Blog editors Helen Torr Dove and Arthur Dove diary, 1936. Arthur and Helen Torr Dove papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. One of my favorite images from A Day in the Life: Artists’ Diaries from the Archives of American Art, is Helen Torr Dove and Arthur Dove’s diary from 1936. Dove made colored spheres which may signify the phases of the moon, and also noted the temperature and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2015 at Archives of American Art Blog
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This is the introduction to a series of posts curated by artist Mary Temple, in which guest authors will comment on contemporary diary practices. She begins the Artists on Diaries series with her drawing project, Currency. Join us on January 3 at 4:00 p.m. for a public reading of artists’ diaries in our Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery. This free public program is organized in conjunction with the exhibition A Day in the Life: Artists’ Diaries from the Archives of American Art, on view through February 28, 2015. The Artist’s Diary in Contemporary Practice Diaries on display in the exhibition A... Continue reading
Posted Jan 2, 2015 at Archives of American Art Blog
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For Veterans Day, Kelly Quinn, the Terra Foundation Project Manager for Online Scholarly and Educational Initiatives, looks at the contributions of artist Anna Coleman Ladd in aiding soldiers disfigured during World War I. Anna Coleman Ladd, 1901 January / Fratelli D’Alessandri (Firm), photographer. Anna Coleman Ladd papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. In April 1919, Mrs. Charles Bochman wrote a note of thanks to sculptor Anna Coleman Ladd for a lecture Ladd delivered to a local chapter of the American Red Cross. Ladd had recently returned to the U.S. after a year abroad in France where she founded the... Continue reading
Posted Nov 10, 2014 at Archives of American Art Blog
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Summer intern Emma Kibblewhite shares about a summer spent with the Archives of American Art’s oral history collection. Jennifer Snyder, Emma Kibblewhite, and Simone Zehren, ready to audit oral history interviews. Photo: Emma Kbblewhite A few weeks ago, I was in New York with my friend Fannie, trying to hit as many museums on 5th Ave as possible in one day. We started at MoMA, and soon Fannie realized her grave mistake: she was in for a full day of fun facts and anecdotes about whatever work of art was in front of us. “Jo Baer. Minimalist. She has a... Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2014 at Archives of American Art Blog
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Guest blogger Katie Monroe examines this history of the bookplate, and finds inspiration in some original plates designed by artists. Lynd Ward bookplate with owl design, 194-. Lynd Ward bookplates, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Lynd Ward bookplates clockwise from top left: a young man reading, a man holding a book and a sheaf of wheat, a guitar player, a sower against a city background, all 194-. Lynd Ward bookplates, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. While looking over the Archives of American Art’s collection of Lynd Ward’s bookplates for the Journal’s article about his graphic work, it struck... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2014 at Archives of American Art Blog
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Curator of Manuscripts, Mary Savig, on artists and models who inspire as they strike a pose. Think you’ve got what it takes to be an artist’s model? Vogue with us on Instagram and Twitter using #StrikeAPose. The Archives of American Art’s current exhibition Artists and Their Models considers the important role of models in the artistic process. A model’s distinct characteristics help bring life and personality to an artist’s idea. Yet being an artist’s muse requires both muscle and moxie. Live models have to ignore their aching limbs and maintain dramatic gazes for hours at a time. They must comport... Continue reading
Posted Jul 8, 2014 at Archives of American Art Blog
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Elizabeth Botten, curator of the exhibition Artists and Their Models, considers a group of reference photographs used by Violet Oakley in the making of the Dante Window. Mills Thompson posing for Violet Oakley's Dante window, circa 1911 / unidentified photographer. Violet Oakley papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Models posing for Violet Oakley's Dante window, circa 1911 / unidentified photographer. Violet Oakley papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. In popular culture, artists’ models are often mythologized as ethereal and powerful beings: women and men whose languid poses and sensual presence in the studio conjures artistic inspiration. While the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 17, 2014 at Archives of American Art Blog
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Rihoko Ueno, archivist and co–curator of the exhibition Monuments Men: On the Front Line to Save Europe’s Art, 1942–1946, on view through April 20, 2104, examines Monument Man Walter Horn’s connection to the recovery of the Imperial Regalia of the Holy Roman Empire, and a cache of gold coins. In conjunction with the exhibition, the Archives of American Art will be co–hosting a Tweetup with the National Gallery of Art on April 14 from 12:45 to 3:00 p.m. ET. Registration for this event has closed, but you can follow along on Twitter by using the hashtag #MonMenTweetup. Walter Horn's certificate... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2014 at Archives of American Art Blog
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Rihoko Ueno, co–curator of the exhibition Monuments Men: On the Front Line to Save Europe’s Art, 1942–1946, examines the conditions inside mines throughout Germany and Austria where the Nazis stored caches of looted artwork and artifacts. She will be participating in a Twitter chat on March 11 at 2:30 p.m. ET. Join in on Twitter with your questions by using the hashtag #MonMenChat. Herr Sicher, George Stout and Thomas Carr Howe inspecting paintings, 1945 July 9 / unidentified photographer. Thomas Carr Howe papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. During World War II, the Nazis looted museums and private collections... Continue reading
Posted Mar 7, 2014 at Archives of American Art Blog
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In celebration of the Esther McCoy papers being available in the Archives of American Art’s Terra Foundation Center for Digital Collections, writer Susan Morgan looks at some notable photographs of the architectural historian and critic. Esther McCoy, ca. 1944 / unidentified photographer. Esther McCoy papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. In 1991, when I was about to be transplanted from New York to Los Angeles, a friend suggested that I read Five California Architects, Esther McCoy’s 1960s classic—an extraordinary book described by Reyner Banham as “so damned readable it was in a different league than most architectural literature.” I... Continue reading
Posted Mar 3, 2014 at Archives of American Art Blog