Da, De, Di, Du, La, Le, Van, Von…

Anne Evenhaugen : June 6, 2016 9:00 am : Art and Design, Collection Highlights, homepage, Intern and Volunteer Updates, Special Collections

—This post was written by Elsa Miller, Spring 2016 intern at the American Art & Portrait Gallery Library (AA/PG). 

photo by Matailong Du, 2016

Elsa Miller working with the Art & Artist Files

The American Art and Portrait Gallery Library  (AA/PG) has an extensive vertical file collection, consisting of 150,000 files on more than 75,000 artists and institutions. These Art & Artist Files contain ephemera such as newspaper clippings, brochures, exhibition announcements, and magazine articles and are frequently used to answer reference questions.

As an actively-used collection that has grown over many decades, sometimes things get a little out of order. Especially those artists with last names that begin with Da, De, Di, Du, Le, La, Van, and Von. As an intern at the AA/PG Library, I was given the project to research filing rules for proper alphabetizing and select the best fit for the AA/PG Library collection, then update the online records for these artists with the authorized form, and put any stragglers back in order.

Should I ignore the space in van Gogh or file it all as one name? Does the van go after Vincent or Gogh?  Wading into this situation was going to be tricky, but these artists depended on me to put them in the right place so that they could be found later on. A few weeks into the project I felt like there was no end in sight. I was halfway through the last name ‘La’ and tired of every artist who didn’t have a simple name.

My family came to visit me in DC, and we went to the National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum to explore the museums the library was supporting. I know very little about art. In fact, I haven’t taken an art class since eighth grade so working at an art library renewed an interest in a subject I hadn’t thought about in years. Instead of zooming through the museum like I usually do with art museums, I slowed down and really looked at the paintings.

Updating the files online.

Updating the files online.

With one painting in particular, I glanced quickly at the plate describing the artwork and the painter.

Something about it made me look twice. The artist’s name, Philip Alexius de László, seemed oddly familiar. I knew I had seen it before. Of course! It was one of the names I had worked with in the Art & Artist Files. I hadn’t realized it, but going through the names and looking at the contents of the files was helping me learn a little bit about American artists. And the National Portrait Gallery owns seven works by de László, a society portraitist both in Europe and in America during the early twentieth century, so he is an important artist to be able to find later!

In total, I edited records for nearly 200 artists, and while I’m glad it’s complete, I do miss learning new names every day and getting caught up looking through a file. I’m glad to say that the next time someone needs a file with the last name Da, De, Di, Du, Le, La, Van, or Von, the AA/PG Library won’t have a problem in locating it!

—This post was written by Elsa Miller, Spring 2016 intern at the American Art & Portrait Gallery Library (AA/PG). 

 

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From Charlie Parker to Potato Chip Portraits: Exhibition of Recently Acquired Artists’ Books

Anne Evenhaugen : May 27, 2016 9:00 am : Art and Design, Collection Highlights, Exhibitions, homepage, Special Collections

American Art & Portrait Gallery LibraryThe Smithsonian American Art and Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library is pleased to present an exhibition of some of its recently acquired artists’ books in the Library’s Reading Room.

The books, all acquired in the last two years, range from mass-produced publications to unique, hand-made book works. The artworks show a range of subjects, from the very personal, family stories, to the cult of celebrity. more »

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Corcoran Artist Vertical File collection donated to the Smithsonian Libraries

Anne Evenhaugen : December 18, 2015 9:00 am : Art and Design, Collection Highlights, homepage, New and Notable, Research, Special Collections

Alexander Liberman Catalog from the CGA ephemera files.

Alexander Liberman Catalog from the CGA ephemera files.

The Smithsonian Libraries is pleased to announce the donation of research ephemera for more than 8,000 artists from the Corcoran Gallery of Art (CGA) in Washington, D.C., to be housed at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library.

Dan Graham and Marilyn Levine ephemera

Dan Graham and Marilyn Levine ephemera

The Smithsonian AA/PG Library recently acquired the Artist Vertical File collection from the Trustees of the Corcoran, which encompasses a large collection of published ephemera related to artists, with particular strength in Washington D.C.-based artists and those who worked during the Works Progress Administration (WPA) program. more »

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November twenty-six, nineteen hundred sixty-three.

Anne Evenhaugen : November 27, 2015 9:00 am : Advancement and Development, Art and Design, Collection Highlights, Events, homepage, Special Collections

 

November twenty-six, nineteen hundred sixty-three, poem

November twenty-six, nineteen hundred sixty-three, poem

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy Jr. on November 22, 1963, ultimately ushered in a decade of turmoil and distress in the United States. The Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement for African Americans were two of many struggles facing the American people in the 1960s. more »

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Women’s History Month: Adelaide Alsop-Robineau and Keramic Studio

Richard Naples : March 23, 2015 9:00 am : Art and Design, Collection Highlights, homepage

Alsop-Robineau & co, from the October 1912 issue of Keramic Studio

Alsop-Robineau & co, from the October 1912 issue of Keramic Studio

Around March, I’ll be forgiven if I start to pay a little more attention to the genders of the people I come across in our digital book and journal collection. After all, it is Women’s History Month. But one journal I keep coming back to is Keramic Studio, a monthly ceramics magazine produced around the turn of the 20th century that we digitized a couple years ago as part of our Books Online collection. Adelaide Alsop-Robineau began the journal in 1899, and it continued to be published into the 1920s. The work featured in the early years of the journal was primarily contributed by women, including Alsop-Robineau herself, along with her co-editor Anna B. Leonard. Both women were well known ceramics painters and designers. I find myself returning to the journal and perusing the many images and illustrations, especially when I need a dose of design inspiration. more »

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