Past Exhibitions

Revisit almost twenty years of the Archives’ past exhibitions covering various topics, projects, and events in art history.

  • This exhibition presents a selection of letters, writings, photographs, interviews and other primary sources documenting American artists working in clay.

    The Archives of American Art?s focus on clay is part of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America, an unprecedented initiative to document the life and work of Americas leading craft artists, made possible through a grant from Nanette L. Latiman.

  • This small collection of George Catlin papers came to the Smithsonian Institution in 1879 with Catlin’s “Indian Gallery,” his famous paintings from life of Native Americans completed between 1830 and 1836. Joseph Harrison, a wealthy American industrialist, rescued Catlin’s works from London creditors in the 1850s. The papers and paintings then languished in various warehouses in Philadelphia and suffered at least two fires—the ravages of which can still be detected in the papers.

  • October 10, 2002 - January 10, 2003

    Andre Emmerich: A Documentary Portrait

    For almost 50 years, the André Emmerich Gallery was one of New York's most influential contemporary galleries. It was the focal point for Color-Field painting and a leading venue for color abstraction and monumental sculpture.

    Born in Germany in 1924 and raised in Holland, André Emmerich emigrated to the United States in 1940. After graduating from Oberlin College and working as a writer, he opened his gallery in 1954.

  • April 5 - June 29, 2002

    Marcel Breuer: A Centennial Celebration

    The Marcel Breuer Papers were generously donated to the Archives of American Art between 1985 and 1999 by his widow, Constance Breuer. Spanning the years 1920 to 1986, the papers include correspondence, interviews, writings, project files, photographs, financial records, and printed material documenting Breuer's career as an architect and designer.

  • January 10 - March 29, 2002

    American Traditions: A Taste for Folk Art

    The definition of American folk art is notoriously difficult to pin down. In the twentieth century “folk art” has embraced everything from Pennsylvania German frakturs to eccentric architectural environments.

  • October 24, 2001 - January 4, 2002

    Wayne Thiebaud : Memories and Delights

    The Archives of American Art celebrates the art and the career of Wayne Thiebaud as we delight in in his engaging and thoughtful work. Thiebaud's strongly illuminated forms possess a dignity that transcends their familiar origins. His memorable paintings of cakes and pies, display counters, shoes and ties, Sacramento Delta marshes and vertiginous San Francisco streets offer an open-minded and egalitarian view of American life.

  • The Archives of American Art created this exhibition in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month 2001 in order to pay tribute to Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (b. 1907 d. 1954) and her enduring influence on American art.

  • June 1 - October 22, 2001

    Craft and the Creative Process

    This online exhibition, drawn entirely from collections in the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art, celebrates Nanette L. Laitman's gift to the Archives for the creation of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft in America, an unprecedented initiative to document the life and work of America's leading craft artists.

  • September 19, 2000 - January 5, 2001

    Treasures from the Archives of American Art

    When E. P. Richardson and Lawrence Fleischman first conceived the idea of a central repository for the primary records of art in America, they could not have foreseen the impact of their vision on American art history. This exhibition of treasures, from an overflowing trove, pays tribute to their initiative and salutes the thousands of donors who have given their papers to the Archives of American Art since its founding in 1954.

  • The papers of Cuban Americans at the Archives of American Art include the primary source material of painters, sculptors, photographers, collectors, dealers, critics, historians, and curators as well as records of several galleries and a museum.

  • March 16 - October 6, 2000

    Selections From The Fairfield Porter Papers

    Fairfield Porter (b. 1907 d. 1975), still best remembered as a painter, is now also seen as one of the most articulate art critics of his generation. A poet, philosopher, and political intellectual, Porter’s writings and correspondence provide a detailed chronicle of life in the American art world from his undergraduate days at Harvard to the year of his death.

  • Found among the Archives' collections are many artists' depictions of the American Indian. While the work of artists like George Catlin, W. Langdon Kihn, and Dorothy Newkirk Stewart all look different, they, and the work of other artists represented in this display, are united in one respect: their subject matter came from life. Whether through sketchbooks, notes, or works of art, the following selections are testament to the power of observation.

  • October 1 - November 1, 1999

    Giulio V. Blanc papers, 1920-1995

    As part of the Smithsonian Institution's 1999 Hispanic Heritage Month activities, the Archives of American Art announced the acquisition of the papers of curator and art historian Giulio V. Blanc (b.1955 d. 1995), and the print publication of the second edition of the Archives' Guide to the Papers of Latino and Latin American Artists. These resources were made possible, in part, with funding provided by the Smithsonian's Latino Initiatives Fund.

  • Authors of such books as the Museum of American Folk Art Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century American Folk Art and Artists (published by Abbeville in 1990), The People Speak: Navajo Folk Art (published by Northland Publishing in 1994), and Contemporary American Folk Art: A Collector's Guide (published by Abbeville in 1996), Chuck and Jan Rosenak donated their extensive research files?including letters, more than 1,000 photographs of artists, printed material and tape-recorded interviews?to the Archives of American Art in 1998.

  • In 1997, the Archives of American Art received a donation of 20 linear feet of research material on the Chicano art movement in the United States and Latin America, compiled by Dr. Tomás Ybarra-Frausto. Ybarra-Frausto was a professor at Stanford University in the department of Spanish and Portuguese and has published extensively on Latin American and U.S. Latino culture. Selected items from this collection were exhibited at the Archives New York Research center in the fall of 1998.

  • January 22 - June 6, 1993

    The Telling Image

    Exhibition of portrait photographs from the Archives of American Art at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.