Posted 08/18/16

Paul Landacre’s world

The brilliance of the master printmaker owed something to the patronage of Hollywood royalty but a great deal more to the dynamism of early California modernism.

Posted 08/09/16

Mr. Boyd and Mr. Miles: A New York State portrait artist deciphered

Early nineteenth-century American portraiture includes a number of small profile likenesses in oil, pastel, and watercolor by artists such as C. B. J. F. de St. Mémin, James Sharples, Gerrit Schipper, and Jacob Eichholtz. All follow the European fashion for profiles, namely emulating those on Greek vases and Roman coinage, and are thus fitting for the neoclassical motifs and styles of the new republic. 

Posted 07/28/16

Whose history is it?

For years I’d heard people expressing doubts as to whether the Smithsonian Institution actually needed a tenant devoted to black American history and culture. These misgivings didn’t come from whites only, but from black and brown people too.  The more knowledgeable—or, anyway, least blinkered—of such skepticism circled around whether such a place wouldn’t be redundant since there was already a National Museum of American History on the National Mall, where you could  find some of the same things the newer place was going to display. 

Posted 07/22/16

Let's Just Call It Art

The work of Ronald Lockett, like that of Thornton Dial, Lonnie B. Holley, and others in the Birmingham-Bessemer circle, uses found materials to address environmental, historical, and political themes in ways that go beyond the usual categories. 

Posted 07/21/16

Mourning Becomes Them: The death of children in nineteenth-century American art

"In the midst of life we are in death."  These familiar words, which marched across sermons and samplers alike in the early decades of the American republic, surely resonated with sixteen-year-old Charlotte Sheldon in the summer of 1796.