Allan McCollum, artist. Born in Los Angeles in 1944, Allan McCollum briefly considered a career in theater before attending trade school to study restaurant management and industrial kitchen work. In the late 1960s, he began to educate himself as an artist. Applying strategies of mass production to handmade objects, McCollum has spent nearly fifty years exploring how works of art achieve personal and public meaning in a world largely constituted within the manners of industrial production. McCollum has given attention to the “drama of quantities” in his pursuit of the dynamic relationship between work and viewer. His installations—large fields of related small-scale works, each usually unique and categorically arranged—are the products of various systems. By engaging a cast of assistants, scientists, and local craftspeople in his processes, McCollum has often embraced a collaborative and democratic artistic practice. His approach to art cuts across its hierarchies—by medium, audience, context, and preconception. In honor of the National Gallery of Art’s acquisition of his Collection of Four Hundred and Eighty Plaster Surrogates (1982/1989) last year, McCollum presented the 21st annual Elson Lecture on March 27, 2014.
Hollis Clayson, Samuel H. Kress Professor 2013–2014, Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art. Organized in conjunction with Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris, this symposium held on December 6, 2013, at the National Gallery of Art offers new perspectives on art and urbanism in 19th-century Paris. An international panel of art, architectural, and literary historians address the transformation of 19th-century Paris in papers that focus on diverse topics including the representation of Parisian quarries in 19th-century photography, painting, and literature; the formative role of architect Gabriel Davioud in reshaping Paris; the use of photography to map the changing city; new modes of transportation that shape the experience and representations of the city; the impact of 19th-century photography of Paris on 20th-century film; and the relationship between Marville’s urban documentation and contemporary photographic practice. Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris is on view at the Gallery through January 5, 2014.
Leo Rubinfien, photographer and guest exhibition curator of Garry Winogrand. In honor of the National Gallery of Art’s exhibition Garry Winogrand, Leo Rubinfien, a friend and protégé of Winogrand’s during the last decade of his life, delivers this opening day lecture on March 2, 2014. A renowned photographer of American life—particularly New York City—from the 1950s through the early 1980s, Winogrand (1928–1984) worked with dazzling energy and a voracious appetite. Rubinfien provides an introduction to Winogrand's body of work: its themes, its optimism and fatalism, and the turbulent years in which it developed. This first Winogrand retrospective in 25 years presents some 180 photographs, including iconic images and more than 60 never-seen-before prints and contact sheets. Together they reveal the full breadth of his art. Garry Winogrand is on view through June 8, 2014.
Andy Goldsworthy, artist. British artist Andy Goldsworthy was commissioned to create a site-specific sculpture for the National Gallery of Art in 2004. Installed in the East Building in the winter of 2004/2005, Roof comprises nine stacked-slate, low-profile domes—each hollow and measuring, roughly, 5 ½ feet high and 27 feet in diameter, with centered oculi 2 feet in diameter. Goldsworthy, who has worked with the domical form since the late 1970s, chose it for the Gallery in part because the site’s northern orientation would allow him to produce perfectly black holes. The earthbound domes also serve as a counterpoint to the many rooftop domes of Washington. In his first public appearance at the Gallery since the spring of 2005, Goldsworthy looked back at Roof’s installation. Recorded on November 11, 2013, this lecture focuses on Goldsworthy’s art in relationship to the built environment and the contextualization of Roof within his more recent body of work.
Tom Learner, head of modern and contemporary art research, Getty Conservation Institute, in conversation with artist De Wain Valentine. The International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art—North America (INCCA—NA), working together with the National Gallery of Art and the Getty Conservation Institution, presented From Start to Finish: The Story of “Gray Column” on July 16, 2013, at the Gallery. This 30-minute documentary recounts the remarkable story behind the making of De Wain Valentine's Gray Column, a stunning large-scale polyester sculpture. The film follows the piece from its original concept to its display at the Getty Center for Valentine's exhibition during Pacific Standard Time, the 2011 Getty initiative to celebrate the birth of the Los Angeles art scene. Following the film, Tom Learner and De Wain Valentine discuss the creation of this monumental work of art and his thoughts on approaches to its conservation. This program is part of INCCA—NA’s Voice of the Artist series.
Kerry James Marshall in conversation with James Meyer, associate curator of modern art, National Gallery of Art. Kerry James Marshall has exhibited widely in both the United States and abroad and is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, among other honors. His work often explores the experiences of African Americans and narratives of American history that have historically excluded black people. Drawing upon the artist’s prodigious knowledge of art history and African diasporic culture, his paintings combine figurative and abstract styles and multiple allusions. In Marshall’s art, the past is never truly past: history exerts a constant, often unconscious pressure on the living. In this program recorded on June 26, 2013, Marshall discusses the works and themes of his exhibition In the Tower: Kerry James Marshall, on view at the Gallery from June 28 to December 7, 2013.
Tina Barney, artist; Sarah Greenough, senior curator and head of the department of photographs, National Gallery of Art; Sarah Lewis, art historian, author and curator; Clifford Ross, artist; and Robert Storr, dean of the Yale School of Art, chairman of FAPE’s Professional Fine Arts Advisors, and consulting curator of modern and contemporary art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. In collaboration with the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE), the National Gallery of Art hosted a panel discussion on the role of art in diplomacy on April 30, 2013. The panelists—Sarah Greenough, Sarah Lewis, and Robert Storr—present an overview of FAPE’s photography collection in American embassies around the world. Tina Barney discusses her recent gift to FAPE, and Clifford Ross reviews the photographs acquired by FAPE for display at the US Mission to the United Nations in New York as well as recent projects in China.
Glenn Ligon, artist, with Molly Donovan and James Meyer, associate curators of modern art, National Gallery of Art. Glenn Ligon’s intertextual works examine cultural and social identity—often through found sources such as literature, Afro-centric coloring books, and photographs—to reveal the ways in which slavery, the civil rights movement, and identity politics inform our understanding of American society. In 2012, the Gallery acquired its first painting by Ligon, Untitled (I Am a Man) (1988). In honor of this acquisition, Ligon presented the 20th annual Elson Lecture on March 14, 2013. Untitled (I Am a Man) is a reinterpretation of the signs carried by 1,300 striking African American sanitation workers in Memphis in 1968 and made famous in Ernest Withers' photographs of the march. Proclaiming "I Am a Man," the signs evoke Ralph Ellison's famous line—"I am an invisible man." Approximating the size of these signs, Ligon’s roughly made painting combines layers of history, meaning, and physical material in a dense, resonant object. As the first painting in which the artist appropriated text, itis a breakthrough. In subsequent works he would transform texts into fields of semilegible and masked meanings. The Gallery owns sixteen works by Ligon, including a suite of etchings and a print portfolio.
Tania Bruguera, artist; Tom Finkelpearl, executive director, Queens Museum of Art; and Mierle Laderman Ukeles, artist. Socially cooperative art is a field not well understood by many, indeed even in the art world. Why is it art? Where does art end and social action begin? Who is the author of a cooperative project? In this lecture recorded on February 3, 2013, at the National Gallery of Art, Tom Finkelpearl celebrates his latest publication, What We Made: Conversations on Art and Social Cooperation, by providing an overview of socially cooperative art—where it comes from, what its artistic roots are, and why it can be considered valuable. Tania Bruguera and Mierle Laderman Ukeles, two of the most important artists working in America today in this field, then describe their work, focusing on a single project. Bruguera, Finkelpearl, and Ukeles take a careful look at how art can intersect with life and how artists are reimagining this intersection in the new avant-garde of participatory, activist, community-inclusive art.
David C. Driskell, artist, curator, and professor of art, University of Maryland, College Park. On January 11, 1990, the National Gallery of Art announced an initiative to address the underrepresentation of minorities—particularly African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans—in the museum profession. In response, David Driskell presented a lecture at the Gallery on February 11, 1990, on multi-cultural representation in art museum collections and exhibitions and among staff and visitors. Unresolved issues in our cultural history raise questions about why the arts have been divided along racial lines—if, as Driskell observes, all art emanates from the salient desire to express the inner urges of the human spirit. This quality we all possess is colorless, classless, and uncluttered by feelings of racial superiority. The insistence on dividing art in the United States along racial lines demonstrates a response different in both thought and action than that seen in older cultures and ancient societies. Driskell hopes that these impending initiatives allow us to enter the 21st century with a more holistic view of our history and the cultural pluralism that is the privilege of this nation.
David Adjaye, principal architect, Adjaye Associates; Elizabeth Diller, principal architect, Diller Scofidio + Renfro; Tom Finkelpearl, executive director, Queens Museum of Art; Sarah Lewis, art historian, author, and curator; and Robert Storr, chairman of FAPE's Professional Fine Arts Committee and dean of the Yale School of Art. In collaboration with the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE) and in the spirit of its Leonore and Walter Annenberg Award for Diplomacy through the Arts, the National Gallery of Art hosted this annual panel discussion on May 15, 2012. Featuring noted architects David Adjaye and Elizabeth Diller, and moderated by Robert Storr, the program focused on how architecture and art bring people together in public spaces. Adjaye currently serves as the lead designer for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is slated to open on the National Mall in 2015. Diller, along with Ricardo Scofidio and Charles Renfro, recently completed the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts Redevelopment Project. Also participating were Tom Finkelpearl, executive director of the Queens Museum of Art, which broke ground last year on an expansion that will double its size; and Sarah Lewis, a PhD candidate at Yale University who is currently finishing RISE, a book that "explores the advantage of resilience and so-called failure in successful creative human endeavors."
Kerry James Marshall, artist. Kerry James Marshall is a master of the human figure. His imposing, radiant paintings and installations draw equally upon African American history and the history of Western art. Born in 1955 in Birmingham, Alabama, he moved with his family to the town of Watts in 1963, shortly before the race riots began. At Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles he studied with social realist painter Charles White. Marshall's mature career can be dated to 1980, when, inspired by Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, he developed his signature motif of a dark, near-silhouetted figure. This figure of "extreme blackness," as he puts it, has been important for younger artists including Glenn Ligon and Kara Walker. In honor of the Gallery's acquisition of its first painting, Great America (1994), by the artist last year, Marshall presented the 19th annual Elson Lecture, titled The Importance of Being Figurative, on March 22, 2012.
Lou Stovall, artist, in conversation with Ruth Fine, curator of special projects in modern art, National Gallery of Art. As part of the National Gallery of Art summer lecture series Five African American Artists: Johnson-Tanner-Johnson-Stovall-Thomas, Lou Stovall participated in a Conversations with Artists program with Ruth Fine on August 3, 2003. "Compositions and Collaborations: The Arts of Lou Stovall" is a rare opportunity to hear Stovall discuss his own work and his collaborations with other artists, and to listen as he responds to questions from the audience. Stovall has been a major figure in the Washington, DC, arts community since the early 1960s, when he arrived at Howard University for his BFA program. In 1968 Stovall founded Workshop, Inc., a professional printmaking studio, where he has collaborated with more than 70 artists over the years. In addition to his own drawings and silkprints, and his collaborative printmaking projects, Stovall is a published essayist and poet.
Robert Storr, Yale School of Art, and artists Odili Donald Odita, Joel Shapiro, and Carrie Mae Weems. Moderated by Harry Cooper, curator of modern and contemporary art, National Gallery of Art In collaboration with the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE), the National Gallery of Art hosted this panel discussion on May 20, 2011. The panel discussed FAPE's landmark project at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York City. FAPE contributed the art collection for this important post, including three site-specific installations and more than 200 works by more than 50 American artists. Odili Donald Odita completed two wall murals in the lobby and on the second floor, and Carrie Mae Weems donated her photographs to the collection. Also discussed was Joel Shapiro's future installation at the Consulate General of the United States in Guangzhou, China, commissioned by FAPE for 2012.
Terry Winters, artist. A prodigious painter, draftsman, and printmaker, Terry Winters has pushed the boundaries of modern art while he has maintained a keen sense of its history and craft. In this podcast recorded on April 14, 2011, for the Elson Lecture Series at the National Gallery of Art, Winters explains his use of the "low-tech, shape-shifting capabilities" of paint, as he puts it, to engage the complex experience of a high-tech world. The Gallery owns two important paintings by Winters: Bitumen (1986) and Composition (1991).
Jim Dine, artist, in conversation with Ruth Fine, curator of special projects in modern art, National Gallery of Art. Marking the opening of the Drawings of Jim Dine exhibition on March 21, 2004, Dine discussed his career and work with exhibition curator Judith Brodie at the National Gallery of Art. The artist has embraced drawing since the 1970s and is considered one of America's greatest living draftsmen. His images of tools, self-portraits, and studies from nature and after antiquity are among the most accomplished and beautiful drawings of our time.
Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, artists. Working in collaboration since 1976, husband and wife artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen (1942-2009) redefined the nature of outdoor sculpture in public spaces. In this podcast recorded on October 12, 1995, at the National Gallery of Art, Oldenburg and Van Bruggen discuss the design and installation of their larger-than-life sculptures. These works have been installed all over the world and have become iconic images of large-scale public art. This program was presented in conjunction with the traveling exhibition Claes Oldenburg: An Anthology, which was on view at the Gallery from February 12 to May 7, 1995.
Robert Gober, artist, in conversation with Harry Cooper, curator and head of modern and contemporary art, National Gallery of Art. For 25 years the sculptural and pictorial installations of American artist Robert Gober have proved difficult to ignore, assimilate, or forget. In this podcast, recorded on March 27, 2008, at the National Gallery of Art, Gober speaks with Harry Cooper. They discuss Gober's life as an artist and the consistently unpredictable and affecting nature of his oeuvre, which has had singular importance for contemporary art.
Leo Villareal, artist, in conversation with Molly Donovan, associate curator of modern and contemporary art, National Gallery of Art. In this podcast recorded on September 7, 2008, at the National Gallery of Art, American artist Leo Villareal and curator Molly Donovan discuss Villareal's Multiverse installation, which occupies the Concourse walkway between the East and West Buildings of the National Gallery of Art. Installed between September and December of 2008, Multiverse is one of the largest and most complex light sculptures created by the artist, featuring approximately 41,000 computer-programmed LED (light-emitting diode) nodes that run through channels along the 200-foot-long space.
Chuck Close, artist; Ambassador Cynthia P. Schneider, Georgetown University and the Brookings Institution; and Robert Storr, dean, Yale School of Art. Moderated by Joseph J. Krakora, executive officer for development and external affairs, National Gallery of Art. The National Gallery of Art hosted this panel discussion, in coordination with the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies, on April 12, 2010, to examine the important role that art plays in representing the United States abroad.
- Diamonstein-Spielvogel Lecture Series
- Sydney J. Freedberg Lecture on Italian Art
- Elson Lecture Series
- A.W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts
- Wyeth Lectures in American Art
- Conversations with Artists
- Collecting of African American Art
- Conversations with Collectors
- Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE)