Ten Years of the Archives of American Art Blog

By the Archives

November 29, 2019

Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo at the Detroit Institute of Arts
Detroit Institute of Arts. Photograph of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in the interior court of the Detroit Institute of Arts, 1932 or 1933. Florence Arquin papers, 1923-1985. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

Ten years ago, the Archives of American Art launched its blog with Stolen Moment, a reflection on Florence Arquin’s photograph of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera kissing on the scaffolding in the Detroit Institute of Arts as he painted his murals there. In the years since, 222 posts contributed by Archives staff, interns, and guest authors have illuminated milestones in the Archives’ history along with serious and silly features on our collections.  We have explored the contributions of the Monuments Men and Women in World War II, discovered personal stories of the Harlem Renaissance, and learned about the experiences of Japanese American artists who were imprisoned in incarceration camps in the United States.  We have offered Halloween costume advice, cuddles with artists’ cats, and marveled at fantastic facial hair.  Look back at our first decade of blog posts and subscribe to be with us through the next decade of fascinating discoveries.

—Kate Haw, director of the Archives of American Art

 

 

A Decade of Blog Posts

In celebration of our December 1 anniversary, we have plumbed the depths of our blog archives to highlight the most popular post of each year from the last ten. As you will see, some have sustained a readership well beyond their publication date. Thank you to all of the writers who have contributed their words and ideas to the Archives of American Blog over the last decade—and without whom there would be no blog—and, especially, thank you to our amazing readers, many of you were here from the very beginning.

—Elizabeth Botten, editor Archives of American Art Blog

 

2009–2010 | Halloween Costume Guide: Archives Style

Photograph of Loy Bowlin

Chuck Rosenak. Loy Bowlin, 1991 (detail). Chuck and Jan Rosenak research material, ca. 1938-2003. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Our first most popular post, published in the blog’s first year, is full of archives-inspired Halloween costume ideas. Whether you want something as simple as a pair of bunny ears or as elaborate the suite worn by the “Original Rhinestone Cowboy,” Loy Bowlin, we’ve got you covered.

Read it: Halloween Costume Guide: Archives Style by Mary Savig

 

2010–2011 | Leo Castelli Gallery Records

 
Gallery view of a Lee Bonticou exhibition
Rudy Burckhardt. Installation view of Lee Bontecou show at the Castelli Gallery, 1960. Leo Castelli Gallery records, circa 1880-2000. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

While the Leo Castelli Gallery Records were donated in 2007, it took several years to fully process this large collection of 215 linear feet. Researcher anticipation for access to the records was high, so it is no surprise that this piece, written on the occasion of the collection being open for research, was our most read post in 2011.

Read it: Leo Castelli Gallery Records by Sarah Haug

 

2011–2012 | Who’s that Lady?

Tempura painting by Honore Sharrer

Honoré Desmond Sharrer. Men in suits standing with a woman in a pink dress, 196-?. Honoré Sharrer papers, circa 1920-2007. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

We like to think of every month as Women’s History Month—not to mention Black History Month, National American Indian Heritage Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, LGBTQ Pride Month, and National Hispanic Heritage month—but in March of 2012 we thought it fitting to highlight some of the amazing women artists and gallerists in our collections.

Read it: Who’s that Lady? By Mary Savig

 

2012–2013 | Artists of the Harlem Renaissance

Cover and interior page from Langston Hughes poetry book

Langston Hughes. LEFT: Cover and RIGHT: Page 13 from The Negro mother and other dramatic recitations, 1931. Prentiss Taylor papers, 1885-1991. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

One of our most enduring posts, which not only highlighted some of the richest collections in the Archives but also the milestone of their digitization and increased accessibility.

Read it: Artists of the Harlem Renaissance by Erin Kinhart

 

2013–2014 | Artful Collaborators: James J. Rorimer and Rose Valland

The story of one of the most fortuitous partnerships in the history of art was not between two artists, but two curators whose alliance helped aid in the recovery of Nazi-looted artworks at the end of World War II.

Read it: Artful Collaborators: James J. Rorimer and Rose Valland by Rihoko Ueno

 

2014–2015 | The Real Monuments Men and Women

Photograph of Monuments Men

James Rorimer (far left) and unidentified men, between 1943 and 1946. James J. Rorimer papers, 1921-1982. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Hollywood threw a little stardust our way in 2014 with the release of George Clooney’s film, The Monuments Men. While the film is a loose adaptation of historical events, the characters are based on several Monuments Men whose real-life accomplishments are documented in the Archives’ collections.

Read it: The Real Monuments Men and Women by Bettina Smith

 

2015–2016 | An Artist’s Home Movies: Hildreth Meière and the New York World’s Fair

Hildreth Meière’s papers are rich in motion picture film, with more than eighty short films documenting her travels around the world. She was a participant in the 1939–1940 New York World’s Fair and also filmed several of the pavilions in Kodachrome with her handheld camera. While guest author Sally Stokes reflects that there are many home movies of the Fair available online, she had “longed to experience and examine Meière’s own moving images as a means of access to the artist’s eye.”

Read it: An Artist’s Home Movies: Hildreth Meière and the New York World’s Fair by Sally Stokes

 

2016–2017 | Purrfect Matches

Sketch of a cat by Emily Barto next to a photograph of an AAA staff member's cat

LEFT: Emily N. (Emily Newton) Barto. Sketch from a little book of cats and commando, 1948 April. Emily N. Barto sketchbook, 1948 April. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. RIGHT: Captain Henry McCuddlebugs. Photo courtesy Barbara Aikens.

In support of the exhibition, Before Internet Cats: Feline Finds from the Archives of American Art, Archives staff brought in photographs of their own cats to twin with images from the show. We not only discovered some uncanny likenesses but also that our colleagues are very creative when naming their cats.

Read it: Purrfect Matches by Archives of American Art Staff

 

2017–2018​​​​​​​ | Studio and Culinary Artists: Recipes from the Archives

Charles van Cise Wheeler

Trash Treasury or Trashury, 192-. Charles van Cise Wheeler papers, 1920-[ca. 1935]. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

 

Menu planning may not be at the top of your mind when you think of archives, but our most popular post from 2017–2018 offers recipes—including vegetarian fare—suitable for a multi-course dinner party.

Read it: Studio and Culinary Artists: Recipes from the Archives by Tiffany Camusci

 

2018–2019​​​​​​​ | Monuments Men Inside the Mines

Photograph of Monuments Men inside a salt mine

Herr Sicher, George Stout and Thomas Carr Howe inspecting paintings, 1945 July 9. Thomas Carr Howe papers, 1932-1984. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Answering some frequently asked questions about the salt mines where the Nazis stored looted and stolen art, this post about the critical work of the Monuments Men, which continues today, remains one of our most read.

Read it: Monuments Men Inside the Mines by Rihoko Ueno

 

2018–2019 Bonus Post​​​​​​​ | Henry Tanner's Judas: The Lost Disciple

Photograph of Henry Tanner at an easel with the same image in reverse

LEFT: Photograph of Henry Ossawa Tanner with palette and his painting Judas on an easel, 192- / L. Matthes, photographer. Henry Ossawa Tanner papers, 1860s-1978, bulk 1890-193. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. RIGHT: The same photograph in its correct orientation. 

Finally, a bonus post about a lost painting which was discovered by flipping a photographic image, because who doesn’t like a little Art History CSI?

Read it: Henry Tanner's Judas: The Lost Disciple by Jeffrey Richmond-Moll

 

Kate Haw is the director of the Archives of American Art

Elizabeth Botten is a reference specialist at the Archives of American Art and editor of the Archives of American Art Blog

With thanks to the staff of the Archives of American Art and the authors of the pieces linked to in this post: Stephanie Ashley, Elizabeth Botten, Tiffany Camusci, Susan Cary, Sarah Haug, Erin Kinhart, Jeffrey Richmond-Moll, Mary Savig, Bettina Smith, Jennifer Snyder, Sally Stokes, and Rihoko Ueno

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