Arthur K. Wheelock Jr., curator of northern baroque paintings, National Gallery of Art. At the end of the 19th century, Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring sold for a pittance, an unknown work by an artist who was only beginning to achieve recognition. Today it is revered as a great masterpiece, so famous that it is recognizable by its title alone, with the name of its maker being almost superfluous. In this lecture recorded on June 1, 2014, at the National Gallery of Art, curator Arthur Wheelock examines the reasons why this image resonates so profoundly with contemporary audiences.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sean Scully, artist. In this podcast recorded on March 8, 2007, at the National Gallery of Art as part of the Elson Lecture Series, Sean Scully, an artist of international acclaim, discusses his work in the modern tradition of abstraction. Imbuing his paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs with the poetic potential of geometry, light, and color, Scully has created nuanced blocks of color for more than 30 years that evoke distinct, personal moods, from exuberant to somber, all within a disciplined abstract vocabulary. He has also enriched understanding of the art of our time through his many important writings.
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.
The Tony Smith Experience, Harry Cooper, curator and head, department of modern art, National Gallery of Art; Q and A Session, featuring Kiki Smith. Tony Smith was an architect-turned-sculptor who defied stylistic categories. His objects, at once imposing and playful, left a lasting mark on postwar art and raised public sculpture to a new level of ambition. On the occasion of what would have been his 100th year, this symposium, recorded on December 1, 2012, at the National Gallery of Art, takes a new look at Smith's achievement from the diverse perspectives of artist, art historian, and curator. Featured speakers include scholar Eileen Costello, sculptor Charles Ray, and curator Harry Cooper. This program was held in collaboration with Kiki Smith, Seton Smith, and the Tony Smith Estate.
Introductory Remarks, Faya Causey, head of academic programs, National Gallery of Art and Kiki Smith, artist; "Dream of the Proper Context": Tony Smith, the Abstract Expressionists' Architect, Eileen Costello, editor and project director, The Catalogue Raisonné of the Drawings of Jasper Johns, The Menil Collection. Tony Smith was an architect-turned-sculptor who defied stylistic categories. His objects, at once imposing and playful, left a lasting mark on postwar art and raised public sculpture to a new level of ambition. On the occasion of what would have been his 100th year, this symposium, recorded on December 1, 2012, at the National Gallery of Art, takes a new look at Smith's achievement from the diverse perspectives of artist, art historian, and curator. Featured speakers include scholar Eileen Costello, sculptor Charles Ray, and curator Harry Cooper. This program was held in collaboration with Kiki Smith, Seton Smith, and the Tony Smith Estate.
Tony Smith: X Marks the Spot, Charles Ray, artist. Tony Smith was an architect-turned-sculptor who defied stylistic categories. His objects, at once imposing and playful, left a lasting mark on postwar art and raised public sculpture to a new level of ambition. On the occasion of what would have been his 100th year, this symposium, recorded on December 1, 2012, at the National Gallery of Art, takes a new look at Smith's achievement from the diverse perspectives of artist, art historian, and curator. Featured speakers include scholar Eileen Costello, sculptor Charles Ray, and curator Harry Cooper. This program was held in collaboration with Kiki Smith, Seton Smith, and the Tony Smith Estate.
Joel Shapiro, artist. On October 28, 2012 at the National Gallery of Art, Joel Shapiro presents a lecture on his nearly 50-year career as part of the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Lecture Series. Born in 1941 in New York City, Shapiro received BA and MA degrees from New York University. Since his first exhibition in 1970, Shapiro has become one of the most widely exhibited American sculptors and the subject of many solo exhibitions and retrospectives, and his work can now be found in numerous public collections in the United States and abroad. His work, from early minimal objects to increasingly expansive and complex forms, has always dealt with such central issues of the sculptural tradition as size and scale, balance and imbalance, figuration and abstraction. He believes that all sculpture is a projection of thought into the world, and he strives to create intimacy and vitality in all his projects. Shapiro lives and works in New York City. The Gallery owns 16 works by the artist, including drawings, prints, and sculptures.
Jenny Lin, pianist, and Roger Reynolds, University Professor, University of California, San Diego. For this multimedia creation conceived for the National Gallery of Art on the occasion of the John Cage Centennial Festival Washington, DC, Roger Reynolds discusses American poet John Cage as a composer, writer, philosopher, visual artist, and performer. Recorded on September 9, 2012, the presentation offers a personalized perspective on (and around) Cage and his work. Passages recorded from a 1985 conversation between Cage and Reynolds are included, as well as some of the signature one-minute Indeterminacy stories as recorded by Cage. The live and recorded readings interpenetrate each other and coexist with projected images and videos. Guest pianist Jenny Lin performs Cage's Seasons (excerpts), Quest, and ONE, which intermingle and overlap with other elements in the presentation.
Benet Rossell, artist. Catalan painter Joan Miró (1893-1983), celebrated as one of the greatest modern artists, combined abstract art with surrealist fantasy to create his lithographs, murals, tapestries, and sculptures for public spaces. Held on June 1 and 2, 2012, at the National Gallery of Art, this public symposium explored Joan Miró- his personal life, politics, art, and the impact that he had on other artists. This program was held in conjunction with the exhibition Joan Miró: The Ladder of Escape on view at the Gallery from May 6 to August 12, 2012, and was coordinated with and supported by the Institut Ramon Llull.
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.
David C. Driskell, artist, collector, and emeritus professor of art history, University of Maryland at College Park, and Ruth Fine, consulting curator of special projects in modern art, National Gallery of Art. Highly respected as an artist, art historian, curator, and teacher, David C. Driskell's life as a collector is less well known. In this event recorded on February 12, 2012, as part of the National Gallery of Art lecture series The Collecting of African American Art, David C. Driskell and Ruth Fine discuss publicly for the first time the expansive range of his art acquisitions, which he started to collect during his years as an art student at Howard University in Washington, DC. Among the treasures in Driskell's collection are old master and modern European prints, antique rugs, African sculpture, and works by African American masters from the 19th century through the present.
Mel Bochner, artist, in conversation with James Meyer, associate curator of modern and contemporary art, National Gallery of Art. Mel Bochner is one of the leading figures of conceptual and post-conceptual art. Between 1966 and 1968, he developed a series of portrait drawings based on the thesaurus. These works enlist a private language of synonyms and shapes to depict such contemporaries as Eva Hesse, Robert Smithson, and Sol LeWitt. In 2001, after a hiatus of more than three decades, Bochner again turned to the thesaurus to develop a series of paintings and drawings derived from everyday speech. Boldly colored and impressive in scale, these works are among the most ambitious of the artist's career. To mark the opening of the exhibition In the Tower: Mel Bochner, Bochner appears in conversation with exhibition curator James Meyer in this podcast recorded on November 9, 2011.
The Warhol: Headlines exhibition, on view at the National Gallery of Art from September 25, 2011, through January 2, 2012, defines and brings together works that Andy Warhol based largely on headlines from the tabloid news. Held in conjunction with the exhibition, this symposium features four lectures, each offering new perspectives from which to consider Warhol's multifaceted treatment of the media.
Jonas Mekas, filmmaker, poet, cofounder of Film Comment and the New America Cinema Group, and founder of Anthology Film Archives; Ken Jacobs, filmmaker, distinguished professor of cinema, S.U.N.Y. Binghampton, and founder of the Millenium Film Workshop; and M. M. Serra, filmmaker and executive director, Film-Makers' Cooperative. Fifty years ago, more than two dozen filmmakers wrote the manifesto of the New American Cinema Group/Film-Makers' Cooperative—a communal, collaborative organization founded on the principles of "self-sufficiency and free expression through the art of cinema." In celebration of the organization's formal incorporation on July 14, 1961, the National Gallery presented a series of five programs of films from the Co-op's impressive catalogue and hosted filmmakers Jonas Mekas, Ken Jacobs, and executive director M. M. Serra in July 2011.
Christine Mehring, associate professor of art history and director of graduate studies, University of Chicago, and Stephen Vitiello, associate professor of kinetic imaging, Virginia Commonwealth University. Following the lectures is a conversation with Ken Hakuta, executor of the Nam June Paik estate, and Jon Huffman, curator of the Nam June Paik estate. Moderated by Harry Cooper, curator and head of modern and contemporary art, National Gallery of Art. Recorded on September 23, 2011, at the National Gallery of Art, as the exhibition In the Tower: Nam June Paik drew to a close, this symposium considers the work of this pioneer of new media from his earliest explorations of television to his later experiments with sound and video. This exhibition is the third installation for the In the Tower series, which presents work by significant artists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The symposium was coordinated with and supported by the Embassy of Korea.
Ann Hamilton, artist. On September 16, 2011, Ann Hamilton presented a lecture on her nearly 30-year career as part of the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Lecture Series at the National Gallery of Art. Hamilton has made multimedia installations with stunning qualities and quantities of materials: a room lined with small canvas dummies, a table spread with human and animal teeth, the artist herself wearing a man's suit covered in a layer of thousands of toothpicks. Along the way, she has constantly set and reset the course of contemporary art. Often using sound, found objects, and the spoken and written word, as well as photography and video, her objects and environments invite us to embark on sensory and metaphorical explorations of time, language, and memory. Textiles and fabric have consistently played an important role in her performances and installations—whether she is considering clothing as a membrane or (more recently) treating architecture itself as a kind of skin. The Gallery owns fifteen works by the artist, including photographs, prints, sculptures, and a video installation.
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).
Gerald Peary, director; Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader; David Sterritt, Christian Science Monitor. With newspapers and periodicals downsizing and devoting less space than ever to film criticism, what is happening to professional critics? After a screening of his 2010 film For the Love of Movies: The Story of American Film Criticism at the National Gallery of Art on March 5, 2011, director Gerald Peary joined film critics Jonathan Rosenbaum (Chicago Reader) and David Sterritt (Christian Science Monitor) to discuss the role and importance of film criticism.
Panel discussion included, in order of participation: Sharmila Sen, general editor for the humanities, Harvard University Press; David Bindman, emeritus professor of the history of art, University College London, and the Sheila Biddle Ford Foundation Fellow at the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University; Faya Causey, head of academic programs, National Gallery of Art; Alison Luchs, curator of early European sculpture, National Gallery of Art; Ruth Fine, curator of special projects in modern art, National Gallery of Art; and Lou Stovall, artist. David Bindman, coeditor of The Image of the Black in Western Art series along with Henry Louis Gates Jr., participates in a panel discussion for the Washington launch of this landmark publication. Recorded on December 12, 2010, at the National Gallery of Art, Professor Bindman and editor Sharmila Sen discuss the complex history and ambitions behind the series. When the expanded and revised series is completed by 2015, there will be 10 books in all, including two new volumes on the 20th century. The panelists examine works made by or depicting people of African descent in the s
Mark Leithauser, senior curator and head of design and installation, National Gallery of Art, and Philip Haas, artist and filmmaker. American artist and filmmaker Philip Haas (b. 1954) has created a colossal fiberglass sculpture inspired by Giuseppe Arcimboldo's painting Winter (1563), on display at the National Gallery of Art as part of the exhibition Arcimboldo, 1526-1593: Nature and Fantasy. Leithauser discusses with the artist what prompted him to make this fascinating work of art.
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.
Harry Cooper, curator and head of modern and contemporary art, National Gallery of Art, in conversation with Susan Rothenberg, artist. Over the past 30 years, Susan Rothenberg has done more than any other living artist to expand the poetic and painterly possibilities of her craft. In this podcast recorded on March 25, 2010, for the Elson Lecture Series at the National Gallery of Art, Rothenberg and curator Harry Cooper discuss her life and career in painting. The Gallery has two important paintings by Rothenberg in its collection: Butterfly (1976), currently on loan to the White House, and Head within Head (1978).
Byron Kim, artist, and Molly Donovan, associate curator of modern and contemporary art, National Gallery of Art. In this podcast recorded on January 10, 2010, at the National Gallery of Art, Molly Donovan and Byron Kim discuss Synecdoche, a watershed work that is a continuing project of portraiture recently acquired by and installed at the Gallery. Synecdoche consists of more than 400 10 x 8 inch panels, each painted a single hue that is meant to record the skin tone of individual sitters. Kim and Donovan also examine Kim's exploration of abstract painting, color, human identity, and existence.
Brice Marden, artist, in conversation with Harry Cooper, curator and head of modern and contemporary art, National Gallery of Art, Washington. As part of the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Lecture Series at the National Gallery of Art, artist Brice Marden joined Harry Cooper, the Gallery's curator and head of the department of modern and contemporary art, to discuss the evolution of his career and the influence of his contemporaries on his work. In this podcast, recorded on November 22, 2009, Marden and Cooper also discuss five paintings and two drawings by Marden in the Robert and Jane Meyerhoff Collection, promised gifts to the National Gallery.
Sarah Greenough, senior curator, department of photographs, National Gallery of Art, Washington, and photographer Robert Bergman. Using a handheld 35mm camera and available light, American photographer Robert Bergman spent nearly a decade making a series of large color portraits that address not only his subjects' physical presence but also their psychic state. On the occasion of Bergman's first solo exhibition, Greenough talks to the artist about his exceptional ability to reveal the common humanity of each of his subjects.
Sarah Greenough, senior curator and head of the department of photographs, National Gallery of Art, and Philippe Séclier, filmmaker. Fifty years after the publication of The Americans, French filmmaker Philippe Séclier retraced Robert Frank's journey through the United States in 1955 and 1956. Working with only a small digital camera, Séclier explores the legacy of the 1950s and the impact of the book on photography and culture in this 15,000-mile odyssey through present-day America. In this podcast, Greenough and Séclier discuss his tribute, four years in the making, to the renowned photographer.
Rachel Whiteread, artist, in conversation with Molly Donovan, associate curator of modern and contemporary art, National Gallery of Art. British sculptor Rachel Whiteread has enjoyed international acclaim for her provocative sculptural practices. Beginning in the early 1990s with positive casts of empty architectural spaces and household objects, Whiteread has continued to articulate typically unseen, immaterial space in increasingly public settings. Her breakthrough work, Ghost (1990), was given to the National Gallery of Art in 2004 by the Glenstone Foundation. In this podcast recorded on October 12, 2008, at the National Gallery of Art, Rachel Whiteread and Gallery curator Molly Donovan discuss all aspects of Whiteread's career, with a particular focus on Ghost.
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.
Photographer Richard Misrach and Sarah Greenough, senior curator of photographs, National Gallery of Art. Employing an aerial perspective, Richard Misrach instilled his monumental beach series with a sense of disquiet: with references to the horizon and sky eliminated, figures appear isolated and vulnerable. In the third of this three-part podcast, produced on the occasion of the exhibition Richard Misrach: On the Beach, Misrach and Greenough delve into the impact of new photographic technology on his art and the inspiration for his series.
Photographer Richard Misrach and Sarah Greenough, senior curator of photographs, National Gallery of Art. Employing an aerial perspective, Richard Misrach instilled his monumental beach series with a sense of disquiet: with references to the horizon and sky eliminated, figures appear isolated and vulnerable. In the second of this three-part podcast, produced on the occasion of the exhibition Richard Misrach: On the Beach, Misrach discusses the process by which he reached his current photographic style.
Photographer Richard Misrach and Sarah Greenough, senior curator of photographs, National Gallery of Art. Employing an aerial perspective, Richard Misrach instilled his monumental beach series with a sense of disquiet: with references to the horizon and sky eliminated, figures appear isolated and vulnerable. In the first of this three-part podcast, produced on the occasion of the exhibition Richard Misrach: On the Beach, he talks to Sarah Greenough about the influences and origins of his photographic career.
Richard Misrach, photographer. American photographer Richard Misrach's monumental color photographs explore the sublime beauty and inherent danger of the sea and its surroundings. In this podcast recorded at the National Gallery of Art on June 8, 2008, Misrach discusses the camera techniques he employed and the personal inspirations he drew upon to create the 19 color photographs, made between 2002 and 2005, featured in the exhibition Richard Misrach: On the Beach, on view at the Gallery from May 25 to September 1, 2008.
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.
David C. Driskell, professor emeritus, University of Maryland at College Park; Ruth Fine, curator of special projects in modern art, National Gallery of Art; and Julie L. McGee, Rockefeller Humanities Fellow, Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Smithsonian Institution and author of David C. Driskell: Artist and Scholar. To celebrate the publication of David C. Driskell: Artist and Scholar, Ruth Fine and Julie L. McGee discuss the first biography and comprehensive monograph of his work with David C. Driskell. In this podcast recorded on April 14, 2007, at the National Gallery of Art, the participants share the collaborative process behind writing the book, which traces Driskell's personal, artistic, and scholarly journey. A pioneer in establishing the study of African American art within the canon of American art criticism and theory, Driskell is also an artist whose work approaches questions of nature and culture, African and African American heritage, spirituality, family, and other subjects.
Mel Bochner, artist, in conversation with Jeffrey Weiss, curator and head of the department of modern and contemporary art, National Gallery of Art. Mel Bochner is one of the most prominent figures of the minimal and conceptual art generation. In this podcast recorded on March 11, 2007, at the National Gallery of Art, he discusses his body of work, which spans 40 years and includes painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, film, and installation, with Gallery curator Jeffrey Weiss. This podcast honors the Gallery's acquisition of Bochner's painting Theory of Boundaries (1969-1970).
Andy Goldsworthy, artist. Two weeks after finishing his site-specific installation, Roof, on the Ground Level of the East Building of the National Gallery of Art, British artist Andy Goldsworthy returned to the Gallery to present the Elson Lecture on March 17, 2005. His lecture describes the working process involved for his concurrent exhibitions The Andy Goldsworthy Project and Andy Goldsworthy: Roof, which first showed the permanent sculpture of nine stacked slate domes, completed over the course of nine weeks in the winter of 2004-2005. Goldsworthy notes that the installation required him to stay in one place longer than he had in nearly 20 years. As an artist who uses natural materials to create both ephemeral work in landscapes and permanent sculptures, Goldsworthy explains his interest in change and the value of returning to the same place to get deeper and deeper into it.
Ed Ruscha, artist. Ed Ruscha discusses his artistic processes and influences, and their relationship to photography, drawing, and pop culture in this podcast recorded on February 13, 2005, at the National Gallery of Art. This lecture marked the opening of Cotton Puffs, Q-Tips®, Smoke and Mirrors: The Drawings of Ed Ruscha, the first museum retrospective of the artist's drawings. The title of the exhibition refers to a quote from Ruscha about some of his drawing tools (cotton puffs and Q-tips®) and illusionary effects (smoke and mirrors). Featuring 89 works and 6 studio notebooks dated from 1959 to 2002, the retrospective traces Ruscha's career from early pop images of American commercial logos and gas stations to later images depicting words and phrases as subject matter.
Andy Goldsworthy, artist. Held in conjunction with the exhibitions The Andy Goldsworthy Project and Andy Goldsworthy: Roof, Andy Goldsworthy spoke about his career and current projects in this podcast recorded on January 23, 2005, at the National Gallery of Art. Goldsworthy has gained worldwide renown for works both ephemeral and permanent that draw out the endemic character of a place. The artist employs natural materials such as leaves, sand, ice, and stone that often originate from the site of the project. Roof, a site-specific sculpture, consists of nine hollow, low-profile domes of stacked slate, each with a centered oculus, that run the length of the ground-level garden area on the north side of the Gallery's East Building. Goldsworthy selected the dome form as a counterpoint to the many architectural domes in Washington, DC. The Andy Goldsworthy Project catalogue is available for purchase in the Gallery Shop.
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.
Jim Dine, artist, in conversation with Judith Brodie, curator of modern prints and drawings, National Gallery of Art. In the first of two appearances at the National Gallery of Art to celebrate the Drawings of Jim Dine exhibition, Jim Dine participated in the annual Elson Lecture Series with Judith Brodie on March 16, 2004. Dine begins by discussing his life as an artist, the formative events in his career, and the emotional and romantic qualities entailed in the act of drawing. A consummate draftsman, Dine explains that "drawing is not an exercise. Exercise is sitting on a stationary bicycle and going nowhere. Drawing is being on a bicycle and taking a journey. For me to succeed in drawing, I must go fast and arrive somewhere. The quest is to keep the thing alive..."
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.
Sam Gilliam, artist, in conversation with Ruth Fine, curator of special projects in modern art, National Gallery of Art. For the 10th annual Elson Lecture, recorded on April 28, 2003, at the National Gallery of Art, Sam Gilliam discussed his artistic training at the University of Louisville (BFA 1955, MFA 1961) and his DC-based career since 1962. In conversation with Ruth Fine, Gilliam explained his transition from an expressionistic figurative style to the abstract painting associated with the Washington Color School. His painting took on several three-dimensional formats, starting with his draped canvases that eschewed the use of stretchers to take their own forms in space. By 2003, Gilliam's work had been the subject of more than 30 solo exhibitions internationally and was represented in dozens of museum collections and public installations. His painting titled Relative (1969) was acquired by the Gallery in 1994.
James Turrell, artist. James Turrell began working in the 1960s, when many artists abandoned conventional painting and sculpture for new media and an expanded definition of art practice. In this podcast recorded on April 7, 2002, at the National Gallery of Art, Turrell discusses the four decades of his career spent creating installations based on the pure experience of artificial and natural light. His work, which ranges in scale from single rooms to the vast, complex Roden crater project in Arizona, has established him as one of the most original visionary artists of our time.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude, artists. Artists Christo (b. 1935) and Jeanne-Claude (1935-2009) redefined the artistic practice by taking their art out of a museum setting and into urban and natural environments. In this podcast recorded on March 13, 2002, the pair makes their second appearance at the Gallery while the exhibition Christo and Jeanne-Claude in the Vogel Collection was on view. By examining their past and future projects, Christo and Jeanne-Claude explain how the communal construction efforts and the temporary status of their installations have contributed to their impressive qualities.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude, artists To celebrate the opening of the exhibition Christo and Jeanne-Claude in the Vogel Collection on February 3, 2002, at the National Gallery of Art, artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude discussed their realized and non-realized projects. Featuring 72 works representing four decades of the artists' careers, the exhibition included preparatory drawings, collages, scale models for proposed large-scale works, and photographs of completed projects. In this podcast, the artists share their thoughts on The Gates, Project for Central Park, New York City; Wrapped Reichstag, Berlin; and Valley Curtain, Grand Hogback, Rifle, Colorado.
Richard Misrach, photographer To coincide with the exhibition Carleton Watkins: The Art of Perception, on view from February 20 to May 7, 2000, Richard Misrach discussed his photographs of desert cantos and other landscapes as following in Watkins' legacy. The lecture took place on March 26, 2000. Misrach distinguished himself in his 30-year career as one of the most accomplished photographers of our time. His passionate and intelligent records of the American West present the chilling details of assaults on the landscape by contemporary civilization, while also eloquently revealing its enduring beauty. Misrach explains that although he was not conscious of Watkins' photographs, which evidence the man-made in Pacific Northwest landscapes and were taken more than a hundred years ago, the profound influence of his work is unmistakable.
Wayne Thiebaud, artist. American artist and teacher Wayne Thiebaud discusses the important differences between "painting" and "art" in this podcast recorded on March 1, 2000, at the National Gallery of Art. This lecture was held in conjunction with the exhibition Twentieth-Century American Art: The Ebsworth Collection, on view at the Gallery from March 5 through June 11, 2000, which featured Thiebaud's Bakery Counter (1962). Emblematic of his signature commentary on mass culture, Bakery Counter compliments the Gallery's own Cakes (1963), purchased as a gift to commemorate the Gallery's 50th anniversary in 1991.
Chuck Close, artist, in conversation with Jeffrey Weiss, curator of 20th-century art, National Gallery of Art. This podcast recorded on October 17, 1999, was the first program in the Diamonstein-Spielvogel Lecture Series at the National Gallery of Art. The series began on a high note with artist Chuck Close, one of the preeminent painters of his generation, who discussed his work and career with Gallery curator Jeffrey Weiss.
Ellsworth Kelly, artist, in conversation with Marla Prather, curator and head of the department of 20th-century art, National Gallery of Art. Contemporary artist Ellsworth Kelly joins curator Marla Prather in this podcast recorded on April 21, 1999, at the National Gallery of Art. Spanning more than 60 years, Kelly's career has shown commitment to abstraction and humanism. His intuitive ability to merge space, color, and shape has positioned him as one of the leading post-war American artists working today. The Gallery has more than 200 works by Kelly in its collection including paintings, prints, and sculptures. Kelly's Stele II was one of the 17 major works to be included in the Gallery's Sculpture Garden when it first opened a month after this Elson Lecture program.
Jeff Wall, artist. Canadian-born photographer Jeff Wall first became interested in photography in the mid-1960s. He was struck by the perfectionism that characterized the practice at that time—the idea that photographs should, and must, document the world as it is. Photography seemed to be strict reportage, instead of allowing for collaboration between the photographer and subject (as with cinematography). Films were composed of a series of still photographs, but the potential for collaboration within a single photograph had not yet been realized. In this lecture recorded at the National Gallery of Art on April 17, 1999, Wall discusses his work and his relation with what he calls cinematography. He works with performers and prepares the composition to create an image of something that he has actually seen. Through the large-scale photographs for which he is best known, Wall seeks to tell a fragment of a story and allow spectators to finish the story for themselves.
I. M. Pei, architect, in conversation with Earl A. Powell III, director, National Gallery of Art Legendary architect I. M. Pei appears in conversation with Gallery director Earl A. Powell III to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the opening of the East Building of the National Gallery of Art. In this podcast recorded on March 26, 1998, Pei discusses the evolution of the East Building's design and construction from the time Pei was awarded the commission until the building was dedicated by President Jimmy Carter on June 1, 1978.
Wayne Thiebaud, artist, in conversation with Kathan Brown, president, Crown Point Press, and Ruth Fine, curator of modern prints and drawings, National Gallery of Art. In this podcast recorded on June 8, 1997, to celebrate the opening of the Gallery's Thirty-Five Years at Crown Point Press exhibition, artist Wayne Thiebaud discusses his career with Kathan Brown, president of Crown Point Press, and curator Ruth Fine of the National Gallery of Art. The conversation focuses on Theibaud's prints, which feature themes that also appear in his paintings and drawings. These works depict a wide variety of sumptuous foodstuffs as well as the colorful California landscape.
Elizabeth Murray, artist, in conversation with Marla Prather, curator and head of the department of 20th century art, National Gallery of Art. Elizabeth Murray (1940-2007) is one of the few artists to be credited with both rehabilitating the abstract movement and bringing new energy to figuration. Her sculpted canvases blur the line between the painting as an object and the painting as a space for depicting objects. In this podcast recorded on October 9, 1996, at the National Gallery of Art, Murray discusses her personal connection to painting with curator Marla Prather and how being a woman in a field generally dominated by men has influenced her work.
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.
Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, artists, in conversation with Germano Celant, senior curator of contemporary art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; introduction by Marla Prather, associate curator of 20th-century art, National Gallery of Art. Claes Oldenberg (born 1929) and Coosje van Bruggen (1942-2009) transform familiar objects through their sculptures and give them a new reality filled with mystery, humor, and sensuality. Gemano Celant, organizing curator of the travelling exhibition Claes Oldenburg: An Anthology, on view at the Gallery from February 12 to May 7, 1995, joins the artists in this lecture. In this recording from March 5, 1995, the trio discuss the art in the exhibition—the first survey of their art since 1969—and how it offers a sense of interaction unlike anything else in a museum.
Roy Lichtenstein, artist, in conversation with Robert Rosenblum, professor of art history, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and the Stephen and Nan Swid Curator of 20th-Century Art, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York American artist Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) appears in conversation with art historian and curator Robert Rosenblum in this podcast recorded on October 26, 1994, at the National Gallery of Art. Lichtenstein discusses his career and life as an artist, and the impact that his art has had on popular culture. Rosenblum notes that Lichtenstein turned the popular into the elite and that the popular, in turn, turned Lichtenstein into the popular. This program coincided with the traveling exhibition The Prints of Roy Lichtenstein, the first comprehensive survey of the artist's prints in more than two decades, which was on view at the Gallery from October 30, 1994, to January 8, 1995.
Frank Stella, artist. In this podcast recorded on October 27, 1993, at the National Gallery of Art, leading contemporary artist Frank Stella delivers the first annual Elson Lecture. Regarded as one of the foremost postwar American artists, Stella has pursued his career over five decades, creating prints, sculpture, and works on canvas. Stella discusses the current state of painting and how his own creative process is influenced by inspirational lessons from art of the past. The Gallery owns more than 140 works by Stella, including eight major paintings.
Emmet Gowin, photographer and professor of visual arts, Princeton University. In the first of two lectures honoring the exhibition Stieglitz in the Darkroom, on view at the National Gallery of Art from October 4, 1992, to February 14, 1993, photographer Emmet Gowin shares the relevance of Alfred Stieglitz's (1864-1946) work to his own. The exhibition of 75 photographic prints, chosen from the "key set" of 1,600 photographs given to the Gallery by Georgia O'Keeffe in 1949 and 1980, spanned Stieglitz's career. It demonstrated how a photographer can alter the aesthetics of his art and meaning through cropping, scale, tone, paper selection, and printing process- and also the extraordinary commitment a photographer has to his work. One of the most important photographers of his generation, Gowin (born 1941) is the son of a Methodist minister and considered America and Alfred Stieglitz (1934) to be his second bible. For this lecture recorded on November 29, 1992, Gowin used the title of his undergraduate senior thesis, demonstrating his strong connection with Stieglitz and Robert Frank's The Americans (1958). Tracing the influence of Stieglitz throughout his career, Gowin shares how his work transitioned from photographing primarily human beings to making aerial photographs of toxic waste sites and nuclear reservations.
Nancy Graves and Donald Saff, artists, in conversation with Ruth Fine, curator of special projects in modern art, National Gallery of Art. Artists Nancy Graves and Donald Saff, artist and founding director of Graphicstudio, discuss the formation of the Graphicstudio archive at the National Gallery of Art with Ruth Fine in this podcast recorded on October 6, 1991. This program was held in honor of the exhibition Graphicstudio: Contemporary Art from the Collaborative Workshop at the University of South Florida, which was on view from September 15, 1991, to January 5, 1992, and for which Graves completed her most recent work, Canoptic Legerdemain. The archive consists of 140 paintings, photographs, sculptures, and works in other media created by 24 artists who worked in collaboration with Graphicstudio's printers and artisans.
Jim Dine, artist, in conversation with Ruth Fine, curator of special projects in modern art, National Gallery of Art. Shortly after the opening of the exhibition Graphicstudio: Contemporary Art from the Collaborative Workshop at the University of South Florida, Jim Dine discussed his works in the Graphicstudio archive at the National Gallery of Art with Ruth Fine on September 29, 1991. On view from September 15, 1991, to January 5, 1992, the exhibition featured 140 works by 24 artists, including two sculptures given by Dine from his own collection to complete the archive formed in 1986. Instead of looking back on his well-documented career, the conversation also focused on his recent work in printmaking and on a drawings series completed in the dead of night at a European museum.
Pat Steir, artist, and Kathan Brown, founder and director of Crown Point Press, in conversation with Ruth Fine, curator of special projects in modern art, National Gallery of Art. In this podcast recorded on March 25, 1990, at the National Gallery of Art, Pat Steir appears in conversation with Kathan Brown to celebrate the exhibition The 1980s: Prints from the Collection of Joshua P. Smith. Moderated by exhibition curator Ruth Fine, the conversation explores the role that printmaking and the artist's involvement with Crown Point Press have played in her career. Also examined is Steir's use of paintings and drawings to address many of the important visual and conceptual issues of her generation.
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.
Scott Burton and George Segal, artists, in conversation with Nan Rosenthal, curator of 20th-century art, National Gallery of Art. In honor of A Century of Modern Sculpture: The Patsy and Raymond Nasher Collection, an exhibition on view at the National Gallery of Art from June 28, 1987, to February 15, 1988, Scott Burton and George Segal discussed their work with Nan Rosenthal. The exhibition featured a selection of 70 works of 20th-century sculpture, collected for the Nashers' home in Dallas, Texas, and for installation at a Dallas shopping center and office complex. Held on December 6, 1987, this conversation was the one of the first programs at the Gallery to feature two living artists. Both artists focused on making sculpture for public spaces in the late 1980s—spaces whose users represent a heterogeneous group in respect to their knowledge of art and their taste.
Roy Lichtenstein, artist, in conversation with Jack Cowart, curator of 20th-century art, National Gallery of Art; introduction by Ruth Fine, curator of the department of graphic arts, National Gallery of Art. American artist Roy Lichtenstein appears in conversation with curator Jack Cowart to celebrate the exhibition Gemini G.E.L.: Art and Collaboration, on view at the National Gallery of Art from November 18, 1984, to February 24, 1985. In this recording from January 27, 1985, Lichtenstein discusses some of his 134 prints in the Gemini G.E.L. collection. Gemini G.E.L. (Graphic Edition Limited) is an artists' workshop and publisher of hand-printed limited-edition lithographs. Gemini G.E.L. played a pivotal role in the formation of the Gallery's contemporary collection when Sidney B. Felsen and Stanley Grinstein, owners of Gemini, donated 256 prints and sculpture editions by 22 contemporary American artists working at Gemini G.E.L. of Los Angeles. The archive collection now has more than 1,200 works, establishing the Gallery as a primary research center in the field of contemporary graphic art and edition sculpture.
- 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)