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Author: Anne Evenhaugen

Hard-edged, Bright Color: Generations of Color

Thomas Downing's examples of grids and dots
Thomas Downing’s examples of solid dots within rigid grids

In conjunction with the exhibition “Hard-edged, Bright Color: The Washington Color School” at the American Art and Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library, the blog will be exploring the group of color artists to accompany the exhibit running until late spring. We’ll be exploring three of the “first generation” Washington Color School artists: Thomas Downing, Howard Mehring, and Paul Reed.

Hard-edged, Bright Color: Pure Color

Morris Louis ephemera from "Hard-edged, Bright Color"
Morris Louis ephemera from “Hard-edged, Bright Color”

In conjunction with the exhibition “Hard-edged, Bright Color: The Washington Color School” at the American Art and Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library, the blog will be exploring the group of color artists to accompany the exhibit running until late spring. We’ll be exploring three of the “first generation” Washington Color School artists: Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, and Gene Davis. You can read the first post in this series here.

The 1950s and 1960s saw the emergence of a new ‘School’ in the American capital, the Washington Color School. Experimenting with fields of bright colors achieved by applying thinned paint onto large canvases, these artists sought to enrapture a viewer without the use of narrative or symbolism.

Hard-edged, Bright Color: The Washington Color School.

Hard-Edged, Bright Color
“The idea of bands of color, hard-edged, bright color. It was like a breath of fresh air in the early ’60s, because all this messy sh*t, you know, that was going on in New York — we provided an alternative.” Gene Davis oral history transcript, Archives of American Art.

With the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s upcoming exhibition, Gene Davis: Hot Beat, the American Art and Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library is hosting a complementary exhibition of ephemera showcasing a group known as the Washington Color Painters, or perhaps better recognized by their more dubious title, the Washington Color School.

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

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.

A funny thing happened on the way to my internship: What I accidentally learned in my first week as an AA/PG intern

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here
Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here

This post was written by American Art/Portrait Gallery (AA/PG) Library intern Sharon Wolff. Sharon is an MSIS grad student at SUNY at Albany in New York, and came down to DC to intern with the AA/PG from the end of December through most of January. She primarily worked on cataloging the Art and Artist Files while she was there, along with the upcoming Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here exhibit.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I was accepted as an intern for the Smithsonian AA/PG Library in DC, but I certainly could not have predicted that I would accompany Anne Evenhaugen to George Mason University to pick up artists’ books and prints for an exhibition on my second day. I wasn’t even sure what an artist’s book was, so the whole trip was a great learning opportunity for me!