Discovering the artwork of the original AA/PG Library

~This post was written by Katherine Williamson, an intern at the American Art/ Portrait Gallery library. As part of my work as an American Art/Portrait Gallery Library (AA/PG) intern, I answer reference questions from patrons that involve some type of research, either within our collection or using  online sources that the library subscribes to. One of the most interesting reference questions I have received actually came from our Head Librarian, Doug Litts. Through his own research involving the original location of the AA/PG library – Room 331 of the main museum building – he came across a list of paintings, a marble bust and a cast iron sculpture, that were located in what was known as the NCFA/NPG Library when it was housed in the museum. Through circumstances unknown to us, those artworks were never transported to the Victor Building when the library moved here in 2000. He became very interested in the history of the artworks, as well as where they are now, and recruited me to help him more »

Don’t Miss It—Lecture Today at 4 PM—George Oates: A Conversation with Nancy Gwinn

Come hear George Oates, Lead for Open Library, and Nancy Gwinn, Director, Smithsonian Institution Libraries, talk about the future of libraries, archives and museums in a digital world.

Grant Wood’s 120th Birthday

Grant Wood, most famously known as the painter of American Gothic, became one of the United States’ most famous artists in the 1930s when the canvas made its splash at the Art Institute of Chicago’s forty-third Annual Exhibition of American Paintings and Sculpture.

Warhol’s 32 Soup Flavors

It was July 9, 1962, when Andy Warhol's exhibit, Campbell's Soup Cans, opened at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles, CA. This was Warhol's first solo exhibition of pop art. Campbell Soup Cans comprised 32 separate canvases, each depicting a different soup flavor. Ferus Gallery, under the directorship of Irving Blum, was the first to exhibit contemporary American art in the Los Angeles area. Blum visited Warhol in his art studio. From the Oral history interview with Irving Blum, 1977 May 31-June 23, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution: " . . . He had started on the Campbell’s soup cans. I saw them as I walked into his little house on Lexington Avenue where he was living at that time. As I walked through the foyer, I could see lots of these soup can paintings leaning against the wall . . . I said, “I think they’re terrific, Andy. Would you think about selling them in my gallery?” He said oh, he’d be thrilled, that he had no gallery more »

Women’s History Month—Brenda Putnam

Brenda Putnam was a sculptor and daughter of the first Librarian of Congress, Herbert Putnam. Some of her most well-known pieces include the Puck statue at the Folger Library in Washington, D.C., and a portrait bust of Amelia Earheart. The Libraries has a catalogue of her work in its Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden Library, Sculpture by Brenda Putnam, and also a work by the artist in its Smithsonian American Art Museum / National Portrait Gallery Library, Animal X-rays, a skeleton key to comparative anatomy. —Elizabeth Periale Photograph courtesy of Smithsonian's Photographs of Women on Flickr.

Jody Mussoff—Graphic Master

Certainly, Mussoff’s strong design sense, punchy draftsmanship and gritty, rebellious social attitude make her one of the more interesting representational artists to come down the pike in recent years.”—Joe Shannon, Art in America The Smithsonian American Art Museum is showing a work by the Libraries' very own Jody Mussoff. Lemur (colored pencil on paper), is part of the exhibition Graphic Masters III. Come visit the exhibition! Jody received her art training at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA and at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC. Besides the American Art Museum, her work is part of the collections of several other museums in the U.S. and abroad, including the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Kunsthalle Nuremberg, Princeton University Art Museum, Tokyo National University of Fine Arts. Jody's work has also been exhibited at various art galleries around town and reviewed in major publications. That Jody loves books is evident not only from the fact that she has worked in libraries for 33 years (first at the Hirshhorn Museum more »

Vertical File Collection at the AA/PG Library

Vertical files in art museums and libraries are repositories of “ephemera” — things that are not intended to last a long time. Among other things, the ephemera collected in the artist files may be: announcements of exhibitions, small catalogs, press releases, clippings from various print sources, and correspondences. The vertical file collection at the Smithsonian American Art Museum / National Portrait Gallery Library (AA/PG) supports the mission of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the National Portrait Gallery. The mission for all of the Smithsonian is for ‘The increase and diffusion of knowledge’. In this particular case the knowledge relates to the understanding of the American Experience especially in the visual arts. The vertical file collection is extremely valuable to researchers not only because of its age and depth but because of the "ephemeral" nature of material in the files.  Since these objects were not meant to be retained, a lot of them are very rare.  Additionally their historical value is very high. The AA/PG Library’s Vertical more »

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