Sunday, January 1, 2012

American Art Museum

OK, we promised to get Washington, DC up by the New Year and here it is January 1st. We have one more major museum to show you. On F Street in the Penn Quarter join Bill and I at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
It's in the wonderful old US Patent Office Building (1836)  which also houses the National Portrait Gallery. I would advise two trips to see both. The collections are vast!
Bill and I headed directly up to the second floor to see the collection of Contemporary Art. These visitors are examining Duane Hanson's realistic, life-sized sculpture, Woman Eating, 1971 in the huge, open exhibition space.
We had never seen any major Nam June Paik video installations before. The American has two. I loved the advisory at the entrance to Megatron Matrix, 1995.
I loved Edward and Nancy Reddin Kienholz' installation,  Sollie 17, 1979-80. I remember seeing pictures of this piece in my undergraduate art history textbook.
The Kienholz team collected several rooms from a derelict,  residential hotel before it was torn down and re-assembled them as a work of art. Brings to mind the 99% that we hear so much about lately. Very moving.
Here's Bill with Thomas Ruff's jpeg de01, 2005. Ruff took a low-res photo of the ruins of the World Trade Centre off the net and enlarged it to make something out of the jagged compression artifacts.
It's nice to see these two nudes side by side. To the left, Eric Fischl's What stands Between the Artist and ..., 1994, and Phillip Pearlstein's Two models in a window with cast iron toys, 1987.
Bill and I are big fans of Phillip Guston's work. This is Transition, 1975.
Look at these voluptuous brushstrokes!
The great collection continues on the 3rd floor in the 20th Century rooms. That's Hugo Robus' sculpture, One and Another, 1934 in front of Thomas Hart Benson's huge, mythic Achelous and Hercules, 1947. In the background we can see a Marsden Hartley. All three show the influence of Art Deco.
There are lots of discoveries to be found in the collection. We've never seen Theodore Roszak's rather surrealistic work before. Bill shot this nicely turned-out student studying Roszak's Recording Sound, 1937.
In the 19th century rooms Bill liked the decoration of this piano by painter, Thomas Wilmer Dewey. Mr Dewey was part of the Cornish Art Colony in Cornish, New Hampshire whose members tried to incorporate art into their daily lives. Nice daily lives!
The jewel of the 3rd floor is this three story arcade that houses the Luce Collection of American Art (about 3500 works).
Before we left the museum we wandered the ground floor galleries where changing exhibits are installed. Here's a fine David Hockney, Savings and Loan Building. 1967.
How about these palm trees!
By the time we got to the Folk Art collection on the ground floor we were almost too  exhausted to continue, but the art was too wonderful to skip. Bill liked this thoroughly modern woman admiring the work of Howard Finster. Left to right we see The Lord Will Deliver his Children Across Jordan, And the Moon Became as Blood and finally, Then Shall BE Earth qUAKES. All 1976.
When we finally returned to F Street, Bill waited patiently on the plaza so I could catch these fast moving sailors. We wondered if they were visiting from nearby Annapolis.

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