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Monday, January 27, 2014

2014: Year of the Horse

This coming Friday (January 31st) marks the Chinese New Year. 2014 in the Chinese zodiac is the year of the Horse, which gives me a good excuse to round up (no pun intended) some equine materials from the collections of the Archives of American Art.
Paul Bransom with 'The Skeleton Horse', 1962 / unidentified photographer. Paul Bransom papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
Paul Bransom was a wildlife painter who grew up right here in DC, and trained himself by sketching animals at the Smithsonian National Zoo. Later he acquired a summer home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he taught art classes for Teton Artists Associated. He is pictured here in Wyoming with a patient steed that assisted him in his classes, with a skeleton drawn on its hide to teach budding artists about a horse's anatomy.

Ray Johnson mail art to David Bourdon, not before 1962. David Bourdon papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Ray Johnson was a mail artist and collagist who founded a mail art collaborative known as the New York Correspondence School. Here he uses the silhouette of a horse to advertise the Correspondence School with very interesting anatomy--it's labeled parts are all names of famous artists, architects, actors, and other celebrities (Hugh Hefner occupies the front left leg while Petula Clark takes up the left flank).
Page 4 of Angelica Archipenko's photograph album documenting travels through the United States and Canada, 1925. Alexander Archipenko papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

I saved the best for last. Sculptor Angelica Archipenko compiled a photo album of her travels with her husband (fellow sculptor Alexander Archipenko) through the U.S. and Canada. In Iowa she encountered this teeny-tiny foal, conveniently standing next to a full-grown horse for scale (photo is annotated "Landwirtschaftl. Hochschule [Agricultural college]; Ames, Iowa, Juni 1925"). It is one of my dearest ambitions to get my friend Tiny Horse into the pantheon of Internet animals, right alongside Boo, the world's cutest dog, and Grumpy Cat

For more equestrian materials in the Smithsonian's vast collections, try the Collections Search Center.

Bettina Smith
Archives of American Art

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