Meet Ellis Wilson: born in Mayfield, Kentucky, in a black neighborhood known as “the Bottom,” studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, and won a Guggenheim Fellowship which allowed him to travel through the South painting portrayals of African Americans in their daily lives. Children of the ’80s may recognize his painting The Funeral Procession because it hung in the Huxtables’ living room on The Cosby Show.
Ellis Wilson standing in front of a desk, circa 1950 / unidentified photographer. Ellis Wilson papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Our Bertha Schaefer papers, which have a brand new finding aid, contain this gem of a letter from Jackson Pollock to Schaefer in which he apologizes for his “inconsiderate behavior and for the inconveniences [he] caused.” Would love to know the story behind that one.
Jackson Pollock letter to Bertha Schaefer, 1948 October 14. Bertha Schaefer papers and gallery records, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Meet: Bob Thompson, a painter who reimagined the Old Masters for the 1960s, a Jazz aficionado, and a participant in some of the earliest Happenings in New York.
Bob Thompson in the garden of the Martha Jackson Gallery, New York, 1965 / Dorothy Beskind, photographer. Bob Thompson papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
The photographs that I made [in Chicago] … were things that I was trying to express in a social conscious way. I’d become sort of involved in things that were happening to people. No matter what color they be, whether they be Indians, or Negroes, the poor white person or anyone who was I thought more or less getting a bad shake. I, you know, thought I had the instinct toward championing the cause. — Oral history interview with Gordon Parks, 1964 Dec. 30
Do svidaniya, Winter Olympics! We’ll miss you.
Marvin B. Lipofsky postcard to Patti Warashina, 1990 Feb. 6. Patti Warashina papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Meet: Augusta Savage, a sculptor who overcame the objections of her father (a Methodist minister opposed to graven images), lack of funding, and racism to become a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance, the founder of several art schools and an educator of many students including Jacob Lawrence.
Augusta Savage with her sculpture Realization, circa 1938 / Andrew Herman, photographer. Federal Art Project, Photographic Division collection, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
With the US and Canadian women’s hockey teams battling for gold today, it seemed like a good time to revisit the intersection of conceptual art and youth hockey that is revealed in this photo. For more, see our blog post The Art of Hockey.
Vancouver youth hockey team sponsored by N.E. Thing Co., ca. 1970. Lucy R. Lippard papers, 1940s-2006. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
The editorial staff of our Journal has been hard at work digging up all kinds of great printed materials from our collections for the upcoming edition (coming soon - stay tuned for the release date). For example, this letterhead for a business in a serious niche market - the Glass Eye industry.
Bruno C. Schulze letter to unidentified recipients, 189-?. Leigh H. Hunt papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Real-life Monuments Woman, art historian, and Commandeur of the Legion of Honor, Rose Valland was the inspiration for the character Claire Simone as portrayed by Cate Blanchett in the new film. See our blog for more about Valland and other real people who inspired characters in the movie, and check out our exhibit dedicated to the Monuments Men.
Rose Valland at the Wiesbaden Central Collecting Point, 1946 April 24 / unidentified photographer. Thomas Carr Howe papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.