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Archives of American Art Blog

Read the first-hand perspectives from the staff who preserve and document the history of the visual arts in America.

  • Bernarda Bryson Shahn’s appointment book in the show A Day in the Life: Artists’ Diaries from the Archives of American Art, is filled with events. None of the entries are simple reminders of upcoming appointments—nearly every word in the book is adorned, embellished, or festooned in some manner.
  • Although some artists I’ve spoken to recently do keep proper diaries, most have found other diary-like activities that document their joys, concerns, interests and goings-on. For many, posting updates on social media satisfies that need.
  • Joseph Cornell found beauty in everyday life and everyday objects. His diary entry from July 10, 1948 helps us understand how his incredible outlook enabled him to make the elegant artwork he constructed from bits and pieces of the prosaic.
  • One of my favorite images from A Day in the Life: Artists’ Diaries from the Archives of American Art, is Helen Torr Dove and Arthur Dove’s diary from 1936. Dove made colored spheres which may signify the phases of the moon, and also noted the temperature and barometric pressure the Doves were experiencing.
  • This is the introduction to a series of posts curated by artist Mary Temple, in which guest authors will comment on contemporary diary practices. She begins the Artists on Diaries series with her drawing project, Currency.


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