Rise and Shine: Pop Art Breakfast by Roy Lichtenstein

If life were like a work of art, what would it look like? How would you take the most ordinary daily routine, such as breakfast, and transform it into an artistic masterpiece? While looking through the Art and Artist Files at the Hirshhorn Museum and American Art/Portrait Gallery libraries, I was given a better idea of what it would be like to have breakfast in the boldly graphic world of Roy Lichtenstein, more »

Surrealism for the Masses: Finds from the Art and Artist Files

    The world of modern art is at times criticized for a certain reputation of exclusivity and mystery in which the more inaccessible a certain artist or artwork may be, the more valuable and reputable the art becomes. Salvador Dali, the most famed member of the twentieth century avant-garde movement, Surrealism, on the other hand, challenges this perception that artistic creation is a closed-off affair for an elite few. Sure, Dali was no more »

Elaine de Kooning: Portraits in the Art and Artist Files

The National Portrait Gallery is currently exhibiting the work of Elaine de Kooning in the show Elaine de Kooning: Portraits, organized by Brandon Brame Fortune, the Portrait Gallery’s chief curator and senior curator of painting and sculpture. Elaine was an active member of the Abstract Expressionists in New York, a group known for a style defined by vivid colors, spontaneity and emotive strokes of thick, layered paint on monumental canvases. She married more »

The Anniversary of Museum Cats Day – Cats in Art!

Almost a year ago, the Libraries celebrated “Museum Cat Day”, a social media celebration of cat-related objects in museums which was organized by  Culture Themes.  To see the Libraries’ contributions to Museum Cat Day, check out our Storify account of the action.  On the anniversary of such a fun social media event, we take a look at more cats in art!  This post was contributed by Ria Witteman, intern at the American more »

American Photography in Living Color

When working a in a library, sometimes you come across a book that demands your attention. I was recently captivated by Color: American Photography Transformed, a gorgeous catalogue from Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum of American Art. Nearly every page features large plates of snapshots, advertisements, and artworks. Each seems as fresh and vibrant as they must have appeared to their first viewers.

Joseph Stella: Best of Both Worlds

-This post was written by American Art/Portrait Gallery Library (AAPG) Spring 2014 intern Sara Cecilia Johnson. Joseph Stella’s paintings sit quietly, unnoticed on the second floor of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. People often pass them by, maybe one or two stopping to admire the vibrant color or dynamic movement, but otherwise Stella remains an obscure, unfamiliar name to the average American. What they don’t know about is his striking spectrum of more »

The “O’Connor File” and the WPA

– This post was contributed by Kelsey Clark, intern at the Smithsonian AA/PG Library summer 2013. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was created during the Great Depression as the largest and most ambitious New Deal agency, employing millions of people to carry out public works. This included artists, such as William Gropper, Marsden Hartley, Henry Varnum Poor, or Ben Shahn, who painted murals across the nation, from inside Coit Tower in San Francisco to the Harlem Hospital in New York City. The Smithsonian Libraries collection has books and archival material on the WPA projects, including a file on one man intimately connected to the government project: Dr. Francis V. O’Connor. During my internship, I was given the “O’Connor File” as a research project – a box filled with files containing published articles and books he had written, archival notes, and letter correspondence between the former Librarians at the National Portrait Gallery and various patrons concerning the rights to read some mysterious “questionnaires” that were somehow connected to O’Connor and the WPA. What were more »

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