Tuesday, June 29, 2010
First up, Artists at Work: photographs from the Peter A. Juley & Son Collection.
Have you ever wondered what your favorite artist looked like while painting, sculpting, or creating their art? Was their studio messy or clean? What did they wear? What were their tools of choice?
I found many of these answers in the Peter A. Juley & Son Collection. Peter A. Juley (1862–1937) and his son Paul P. Juley (1890–1975) headed the largest and most respected fine arts photography firm in New York. Between 1896 and 1975, the Juleys photographed hundreds of thousands of artworks and many artists. The American Art Museum acquired the firm's photographic negatives in 1975. Most of the 127,000 negatives are pictures of artworks, but nearly 4,700 are portraits of artists. The Juleys would often travel to artists’ studios and photograph them in action. These photographs offer an intimate, behind-the-scenes glimpse of the methods and process of making art.
(Left to right:)
Eliot O'Hara (American painter and printmaker, 1890-1960) sits on a low stool and paints on the watercolor paper at his feet.
Diego Rivera (Mexican painter, 1886-1957) sits on wooden scaffolding while painting the "Allegory of California," San Francisco Stock Exchange Luncheon Club, 1931.
Gwen Lux (American sculptor and designer, 1908-1986) works on a model for one of her sculptures that was later shown at the Third Sculpture International exhibition in Philadelphia in 1949.
Are you curious if we have a photo of your favorite artist at work too? You can search our online catalog on SIRIS (for photographs of an artist at work, use the Subject Keyword and search for the artist’s name; for photographs of artworks by an artist, use the Artist Keyword search). Also check out our digitized collections page and Flickr Commons set.
I hope you will enjoy learning about the photograph collections. I look forward to sharing more of my discoveries with you in future blog posts.
Emily Moazami, Photograph Archives, Research and Scholars Center, Smithsonian American Art Museum
Monday, June 28, 2010
June—historically one of the most popular months for weddings—is coming to an end, but summer gardens are still in full bloom. In 1953, an article in House & Garden entreated young brides-to-be to begin planning an important aspect of their new future home: a garden. The magazine enlisted landscape architect Perry Wheeler to design a garden for newlyweds that could be developed over a five-year period; or, in Wheeler’s words, “on the installment plan.” His resulting plan emphasizes easy-to-maintain plants, seasonal color, individuality, and outdoor privacy for the growing, young post-war family.
A Georgia native, Wheeler practiced landscape architecture in the Washington, D.C. area from 1948 to 1979. He is best known for his work on numerous private Georgetown gardens and redesigning the White House Rose Garden alongside Bunny Mellon during the Kennedy administration. His designs were practical, often incorporating terraces for backyard entertaining and room for a jungle gym, but also lighthearted and whimsical.
-Kate Fox, Intern
Archives of American Gardens
Friday, June 25, 2010
For the interview Rocky and I covered his background, work details, and memories. During a session discussing the opportunities and experiences staff members have working at the Smithsonian, Rocky bestowed upon me a beautiful metaphor that explains how we should always take advantage of the opportunities afforded to us, both at the Smithsonian and in life. Below is a 30 second audio snipet of one of my favorite quotes from the session, along with a transcription.
"...if you're sensible and if you are curious, then you have to take advantage of situations here. And as I say that time when the Yemen dance troupe was here, and that guy said "get in there and dance with them," and I had about 3 seconds to say "what in heaven's name is he talking about?" and then I jumped in and danced. And it was as simple as that. And if people hesitate in life and in around here, they will miss what is presented to them to do."
I encourage you all to take a page out of Rocky's book, and get in there and dance! Rocky Korr there will never be another like you, and you will be missed.
Rachael Cristine Woody
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
In the early decades of the twentieth century, before color film became readily available, photographers generated glass negatives with a light-sensitive emulsion. Many of these glass lantern slides were hand painted by specialists who may have never seen the roses they were bringing to life (check out the Syracuse University Archives' site for more on the history of glass lantern slides).
Rose aficionados can’t help but notice some of the impossibly bright hues that the studio painters selected for these images from the McFarland Collection. Enlarged versions of these and other rose images can be seen in a Smithsonian Gardens outdoor exhibit entitled J. Horace McFarland: Mr. Rose. McFarland was certainly “Mr. Rose,” as two roses have been named in his honor: Editor McFarland (1931) and Horace McFarland (1944). He was also the president of the American Rose Society from 1930-1932. This exhibit is located in the Kathrine Dulin Folger Rose Garden in front of the Arts and Industries Building. The beautiful roses in the Folger Rose Garden will provide the exhibit with a handsome backdrop all summer.
Archives of American Gardens
Friday, June 18, 2010
A state holiday in Texas, Juneteenth is now observed in communities across the United States and has become an African American tradition. The day is celebrated with parades, performances, lectures, and other activities. It is also a time for reflection and recommitment to family and community. In the spirit of community, the Anacostia Community Museum (ACM) sponsored Juneteenth programs from 1991 to 2003 and documented the observance in Galveston, Texas. ACM Archives is in the process of cataloging and digitizing select images from its Juneteenth programs so visit us regularly to see what’s new. For additional information on Juneteenth search Smithsonian Institution Libraries. You may also join Anacostia Community Museum for this weekend’s program, Juneteenth: A Celebration of Liberation, with Cowboy Fred Carter and other performers in a historical journey into Juneteenth.
Monday, June 14, 2010
Pictured at left in an 8 x 10 glass negative of The Avenue in the Rain (1917) by Childe Hassam, Peter A. Juley & Son collection.
A search for "flag" in the Smithsonian's Collections Search Center results in many different types of records from across the Smithsonian, including photographs of Childe Hassam's flag paintings along with other artistic representations of the flag, as well as stamps, depictions of the Smithsonian flags, depictions of American flags on ships and buildings in the United States and abroad, photographs of events and parades, and even advertisements!
For more information on Hassam's flag paintings see Ilene Susan Fort's The Flag Paintings of Childe Hassam (Los Angeles: Los Angeles Museum of Art, 1988).
Nicole Semenchuk, Research & Scholars Center, American Art Museum
Friday, June 11, 2010
Shown at the left is a lantern slide image (L00327) of a Seminole man, possibly George Osceola (ca. 1880-1950), standing in a dugout canoe holding a speared mud-fish in the Everglades of Florida in 1910. The image is part of the Alanson B. Skinner photograph collection. As an anthropologist, Skinner was sent by the American Museum of Natural History in New York to conduct ethnographic field research on the Seminole people of the Florida Everglades. Both Skinner and professional photographer Julian A. Dimock photographed this expedition. In 1916, Skinner joined the staff of the Museum of the American Indian and most likely used this and other slides for public lectues.
This next image (P0622) taken in Sonora, Mexico in 1924 captures Chico Romero (Seri) posing outside with a large fish he caught. The image is from the Edward H. Davis photograph collection which covers large regions of the Southwest United States and Northern Mexico. Beginning in 1916 Davis worked as an official field collector for the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation.
Both images reflect the importance of fishing to Native peoples thoughout the Western Hemphisphere and altough they only capture a brief moment in Native American history, the images also provide a glimpse into their traditional lifeways that have continued on for numerous generations.
See also the new exhibit, Yuungnaqpiallerput (The Way We Genuinely Live): Masterworks of Yup'ik Science and Survival, at the National Museum of Natural History (developed in conjunction with the the NMAI and the Anchorage Museum), for additional highlights of the connections between indigenous peoples and the environment. The exhibit is open now until July 25, 2010.
See additional images from the NMAI Archive Center photograph collections here.
Jennifer R. O'Neal, Head Archivist, National Museum of the American Indian Archive Center, firstname.lastname@example.org
SIL has one of the largest collections of toy and movable books in the United States, with more than thirteen hundred titles (including Joannes Regiomontanus' Liber Aureus (Calendarium), published in 1476 and featuring a diagram of a sundial with a movable arm). Although many of these books were mass-produced over the last hundred years, some of them were created in very limited editions, or they may survive in only a few copies. The exhibition will provide an overview of the four main categories of these ingeniously designed books, including:
- Movables (books with movable parts that do not emerge from the surface of the page)
- Pop-ups (books with parts that emerge from the page in various ways)
- Folding books (for example, books folded like an accordion)
- Fantastic forms (books featuring multiple kinds of intricate paper construction)
Shown above is a set of six etched scenes by the engraver and print-seller Martin Engelbrecht (1684-1756), published around 1740 in Augsburg, Germany [Cooper-Hewitt library call number GV1521.E54 1740 CHMRB]. The separate scenes were designed to be connected together to form a three-dimensional diorama (also known as a tunnel book or peepshow). In 2009, SIL acquired this set as a group of loose paper sheets, practically in the format in which they were originally issued. SIL's book conservator, Vanessa Haight Smith, carefully prepared the sheets for exhibition (as she describes here) and OEC's Richard Gould created a transparent acrylic box for the display, bringing to life this enchanting scene of dancers in a formal garden.
--Diane Shaw, Special Collections Cataloger, Smithsonian Institution Libraries
Monday, June 7, 2010
The commission seeks to control the hunting of whales by indigenous groups through a series of regulations. These regulations include the stipulation that products resulting from the hunting of whales cannot be exported and that whaling must be conducted “in perpetuity appropriate to cultural and nutritional requirements.” It is the responsibility of the indigenous group’s national government to provide the IWC with evidence of the cultural and subsistence needs of their people.
The Haida nation of the Pacific Northwest coast of North America gives us this depiction of an Orca on the left. The photograph on the right is a lower part of a totem pole and a small carved figure from the corner of a house, representing the killer whale, with the human face at the base of the dorsal fin.
National Anthropological Archives
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
I had the pleasure of meeting George Venable during the recording of his oral history interview. George came to the NMNH in 1971 and is an incredibly talented scientific illustrator, specializing in entomology. During a break in filming, I was elated to tell him that I was an art history major with a science background which matched his natural artistic talent and interest in science. This allowed us to click instantly. In the minutes we had before I started filming again, we poured over his illustrations discussing mediums, shadows, techniques, and how each was applied to different species. As we parted ways, George invited me to come take a tour of his baby: the Entomology Illustration Archives. I was all too happy to take him up on the offer.
The tour was a short one, as the Entomology Illustration Archives is relatively new and takes up only one room. It contains nearly 10,000 images, with the oldest dating to 1900. The newest additions are 3,500 mosquito illustrations from the Walter Reed Biological Unit. George pulled out his own drawings for me to look at, including some of the most detailed watercolors of Scarab beetles that I had ever seen. I didn't even know watercolor could do that!
As I geeked out over pretty bugs, he told me how the idea of an illustration archive first came to him. He and other illustrators would spend hours rendering a three dimensional object into a scientifically accurate two dimensional drawing only to have the illustration lost in the inevitable black hole of a researcher's files, never to be seen again. After finally getting funding, George and his small army of volunteers went around reclaiming lost entomology illustrations.
I learned that the main purpose of these illustrations is to capture information about a plant or animal, information that is often missing from the Museum's specimen, depict the scientifically important features of the organism being studied and describe that organism's natural environment. If the image achieves all of this, then it is a success. Beauty is just an added bonus.
Check out some of the NMNH's entomology illustrations here!
Image 1: My favorite by George Venable of a Beetle or Aspasiola esijhe Erwin, courtesy of the Entomology Illustration Archive
Image 2: Beetle or Pelidnota punctata Linnaeus, by Francis H. Noyes, courtesy of the Entomology Illustration Archive
Image 3: Beetle or Plusiotis gloriosa Leconte, by Francis H. Noyes, courtesy of the Entomology Illustration Archive
Lauren Dare, Intern, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Institutional History Division
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Amateur filmmaker Frank Kreznar made films of numerous trips taken with his wife, Sonia, who often recorded sound while Frank was filming. On a roadtrip from Wisconsin to Florida around 1959, the Kreznars collaborated with their youngest daughter, Vivian, to create a travelogue told from her point of view.
The Kreznars visit tourist traps, explore the beauty of the Everglades, and camp out in full retro style. All their adventures are captured on beautiful 16mm Kodachrome and narrated with sincerity and wit.
What will you do on your summer vacation?
Karma Foley, Human Studies Film Archives