September 26, 2011
Events Sept 26-29: Great Apes, The Peacock Room, Immigrants and Revolutionists, and Talking About Andy
Monday, September 26 Great Ape Research Demonstration
What can researchers learn from orangutans and gorillas? Come visit the National Zoo to meet a cognitive researcher and learn about the crucial role of these great apes in discoveries made about behavior and the cognitive sciences. Free. This kid-friendly demonstration is held daily at 1:30. National Zoo, Think Tank
Tuesday, September 27 The Peacock Room: Renowned and Reinstalled
In 1908, Charles Lang Freer bought the Peacock Room, a masterpiece of interior decorative Anglo-Japanese art, and transported it to his mansion in Detroit, adding to it his legendary collection of china and Asian art. At the Freer Gallery, the Peacock Room is one of the museum’s centerpieces. For the first time, the room has completely been restored to its 1908 condition. As part of this event, art historian Linda Skalet will discuss Freer’s significance as a major American art collector in the early 20th century. Then, curator Lee Glazer will discuss Freer’s innovative approach to collecting Asian art and the behind-the-scenes details of curating it. The event is $30 for Smithsonian Resident Associates Members, $40 for the general public. 6:45 to 9 p.m. Freer Gallery, Peacock Room.
Wednesday, September 28 Immigrants and Revolutionists
The National Portrait Gallery is having a Pop Quiz. Don’t worry about studying for it, just come and answer trivia questions based on the museum’s collection. This month, the topic of the multimedia game will be the history of immigration in America and the roles immigrants have played in our country’s history. This “After Five” event is for participants ages 18 and up. Free, with snacks and refreshments available for purchase at the Courtyard Cafe. National Portrait Gallery, Kogod Courtyard
Thursday, September 29 Talking about Andy
Join one of the world’s foremost art historians and critics of modern art for an evening talk about Andy Warhol. Hal Foster, who serves as the chair of the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University, has written several works on Andy Warhol, and his book, The First Pop Age: Painting and Subjectivity in the Art of Hamilton, Lichtenstein, Warhol, Richter, and Ruscha, will be published next month. See the newly opened “Shadows” exhibition featuring Warhol’s landmark 102-panel work, then come to the talk, entitled “They Were All Diseased: Distress in Warhol, Early and Late.” Free. 7 p.m. Hirshhorn Museum, Ring Auditorium
October 20, 2010
Just Close Enough To The Sun—This week, the folks at the “AirSpace” blog treat us to a few photos of that fiery red giant near and dear to our hearts, the sun. Using a telescope from the Public Observatory Project made especially for looking into the sun’s harsh light, solar imaging expert Greg Piepol instructed blogger Erin Braswell on how to account for turbulence in the earth’s atmosphere that often obscures photographs of the sun. The resulting pictures show a crisp outline of the star, including sunspots and a “prominence,” or protrusion of hot matter coming from the sun’s surface.
Piano Podcast—Michael Asch, son of Folkways Records founder Moses “Moe” Asch, hosts Smithsonian Folkways: Sounds To Grow On, a 26-part radio program of music from the label’s original collection. Interspersed throughout the show is the story of Asch’s father, who started his own record company in 1948, the products of which were later donated to the Smithsonian. Episode 23, Piano, features a variety of jazz and blues piano music from the 1930s, 40s and 50s. Download the podcast from Folkways, along with the your pick of the 22 preceding installments.
Warhol Meets Jackson—In 1984, pop artist Andy Warhol did a portrait of Michael Jackson, which was published as the cover of Time magazine in March of that year. “Face to Face” has entries from Warhol’s diary of those days, which provide a window into the mind of one of the 20th century’s most famous artists. After reading the story behind the work, you may just be enticed to head on over to the Portrait Gallery to see the actual silkscreened portrait, which is hanging in the “20th Century Americans” exhibit.
Archives Fair—In conjunction with the month-long blogathon for American Archives Month, this Friday the American Archives will be hosting an archives fair, (free and open to the public) from 10 to 5 at the S. Dillon Ripley Center. The event will include lectures from the archivists about preserving, cataloging and ensuring accessibility to the precious collections at the Smithsonian. Today, “SIRIS” has posted interviews with Anne Van Camp, Director of the Smithsonian Archives; Wendy Shay, curator at American History, Archives Center; and Freer/Sackler archivist Rachael Christine Woody.
August 26, 2009
In tribute and in honor of Edward “Teddy” Kennedy, who passed away early this morning at age 77, the National Portrait Gallery announces that it will display, beginning tomorrow, a silk-screened portrait of the senator from Massachusetts. Today, President Obama noted that Kennedy was “not only one of the greatest senators of our time, but one of the most accomplished Americans ever to serve our democracy.”
The screen print was created as a campaign fundraiser by Andy Warhol (1928-1987) during Kennedy’s unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 1980. The artwork subtly plays off the colors of the flag. Thin red and blue lines trace Kennedy’s silhouette.
“Warhol loved depicting celebrities and clearly he saw Kennedy as having all the power and glamour that goes with being well-known and admired by the general public,” says the museum’s deputy director and chief curator Carolyn Kinder Carr. “A hallmark of Warhol’s style was the imaginative ways in which he animated a face. With the Kennedy portrait, he used the colors of the American flag and diamond dust to energize his image and suggest the patriotic nature of his campaign.”
The image itself comes with onerous rights protections and so unfortunately, we can’t reproduce it on the blog. But a print is available for viewing here. The museum says it will display the Warhol print “indefinitely.”
July 15, 2009
The painting that Vered Gallery co-owner Janet Lehr calls the “quintessential painting” was removed from the gallery’s silent auction, which ended Sunday. Andy Warhol’s portrait of Michael Jackson represents an intersection of the King of Pop and the King of Pop Art, Lehr said. After a larger-than-expected response, the painting was pulled.
The painting sold for $278,500 in May, but pre-sale estimates this time around were as high as $10 million—the boost in price most certainly comes as a response to Jackson’s death in late June. The piece will still be sold, but gallery owners Vered and Lehr thought it best to give potential buyers more time.
While this work might be out of the spotlight for the time being, a similar print was put on display at the Portrait Gallery over the weekend. The image is “rights restricted,” and therefore we can’t reproduce it, but view it here.
Both pieces depict Jackson in his red leather jacket from the “Thriller” video. He won a record eight Grammys for the Thriller album in 1984, the same year both portraits were produced. The Portrait Gallery’s version graced the cover of TIME magazine on March 19, 1984, just a few weeks after the Grammys. The gallery acquired the painting in 1984 through an agreement with TIME magazine. A few years earlier, TIME had decided to donate portrait cover art to the gallery including an original donation of some 600 pieces.
The painting was put up late last week in the Recent Acquisitions hallway, across from Shepard Fairey’s portrait of President Obama. The inscription “In Memoriam” was painted on the wall above the piece. Curator James Barber says the response to the painting has been favorable in the past. “It’s always a popular painting,” he says. “The public seems to enjoy seeing it.”
The painting has been regularly displayed in the Contemporary Americans exhibit, one of the musuem’s permament exhibits, but was not on view when the singer died. No date is set to pull the portrait, but drop by soon to pay your respects to the King of Pop.
June 18, 2009
The young James Warhola, children’s book author and illustrator, loved taking six-hour family road trips to New York City to surprise his uncle and grandmother, who lived there with their 25 Siamese cats.
In his new book, Uncle Andy’s Cats (Putnam) that comes out later this month, Warhola recounts those visits and the crazy cat-astrophes (forgive the awful pun, but I couldn’t resist) that took place at his uncle’s home.
At first, his uncle—none other than American Pop Artist Andy Warhol (1928-1987)—owned one cat, Hester, who was soon joined by a companion, Sam. Soon enough, there were 25 cats—all named Sam.
To tell them apart, Warhola says his grandmother assigned them names by color, Red Sam, Blue Sam, etc.
Andy Warhol and his mother Julia created a limited edition book, “25 Cats Name Sam and One Blue Pussy,” and shared copies with friends as keepsakes.
“They did those because they loved their cats,” says Warhola. “They were fun projects and it showed their talents. My uncle just loved to draw. So I wanted to be a little bit like him.”
The visits became an inspiration. Warhola has been an illustrator for 30 years, and has designed covers for science fiction novels and MAD magazine.
“The art was always throughout this house. Leaning against the walls and rolled up. We used to play hide-and-seek in it. We had a lot of fun, flipping through all that art,” Warhola recalls, adding that he frequently finds Warhol’s works of art in museums now, and can remember taking refuge behind the canvas as it leaned against the wall.
“There were tons of [artworks] in his house. And the whole place smelled like linen because he used it for his canvases. When we became old enough, we stretched canvases for him. We were always doing those kinds of chores for him. If he knew we had a capability, he would certainly get us to use it. More importantly, he kept us out of trouble.”
When asked about the transition from the satirical MAD magazine to childrens’ books, Warhola says he likes to do things that have a sense of humor.
“I look at them very lightheartedly and funny. It’s tough enough to get kids to read and if you can add a touch of humor it helps.”
And how does he think his uncle would react to the books?
“I think he’d love this cats book because it’s my childhood viewpoint. He’d get a kick out of it. ”
Warhola will read from his book Uncle Andy’s: A Faabbbulous Visit with Andy Warhol, at the National Portrait Gallery as part of an all-day festival, Warholapalooza! on Saturday, June 20, 11:30 to 5.