Dave H. and Reba White Williams, authors and collectors. Over more than four decades, Dave H. and Reba White Williams formed what is considered the largest and finest private collection of American prints, published 17 exhibition catalogs, and donated the majority of their collection to leading museums both in the United States and abroad. In the 6,000 prints they personally selected, they cover both familiar and totally unknown ground—from anonymous WPA artists of the Great Depression era to African American artists working in the 1930s and 1940s to George Bellows and Winslow Homer alike. In this conversation recorded in the East Building Atrium on December 14, 2014, at the National Gallery of Art, the Williamses share insights from the memoir Small Victories: One Couple’s Surprising Adventures Building an Unrivaled Collection of American Prints. By reflecting on the nature of collecting and on the significance of popular culture, the couple provides a glimpse into how they set out to build a great collection of American prints and succeeded beyond their dreams.
Panel discussion includes David Bindman, emeritus professor of the history of art, University College London; Adrienne L. Childs, associate, W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University; Kobena Mercer, professor, history of art and African American studies, Yale University; Steven Nelson, associate professor of African and African American art history, University of California, Los Angeles, and Cohen Fellow, Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University (2014–2015); and Sharmila Sen, executive editor-at-large, Harvard University Press. Moderated by Faya Causey, head of academic programs, National Gallery of Art. In the 1960s, art collector and philanthropist Dominique de Menil began a research project and photo archive called The Image of the Black in Western Art. Through the collaboration of Harvard University Press and the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, the project reaches its completion. The last two volumes in the series mark the 20th-century transition from the depiction of people of African descent by others to their self-representation by artists in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. This fourth panel discussion hosted by the National Gallery of Art to celebrate this series focuses on the second part of the final volume, The Rise of Black Artists. Panelists highlight topics ranging from the Great Migration to globalization, to Négritude and cultural hybridity, to the modern black artist’s relationship with European aesthetic traditions and experimentation with new technologies and media, to the post-black art world.
Molli Kuenstner, image specialist for northern European art, National Gallery of Art, and Thomas O’Callaghan, image specialist for Spanish art, National Gallery of Art. In this lecture, which took place on October 27, 2014, as part of the Works in Progress series at the National Gallery of Art, Molli Kuenstner and Thomas O’Callaghan discuss the Gallery’s partial set of historic slides from the Führerprojekt, an official Nazi archive produced by order of Adolf Hitler. In December 1943, at the height of World War II, Hitler issued the Führerauftrag Monumentalmalerei (Führer’s Order for Monumental Painting) ordering the Reich Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda to administer a photographic survey of immovable murals threatened by Allied bombing. The survey is significant because by the end of the war 60% of the photographed sites had been damaged or destroyed. Kuenstner and O’Callaghan also highlight the partial set of 4,500 Führerprojekt slides that came to the Gallery in 1950 by way of publisher Kurt Wolff.
Henry Adams, professor of American art, Case Western Reserve University. Although one of the grayest of American cities, Cleveland was one of the earliest places in the country to embrace the colorful, ultra-modernist art of the Fauves and the Blue Rider group—doing so even before the Armory Show in 1913. Much of this activity came about through the activities of the Kokoon Club, whose members formed the city’s first radically modern art group, the Cleveland Secession, and also staged an annual masked ball, whose outrageous posters and costumes—or lack thereof—that not only ran afoul of the vice squad but also introduced the entire city to modern art. In this lecture, recorded on June 16, 2014, as part of the Works in Progress series at the National Gallery of Art, Henry Adams explores the emergence of ultra-modern artists in Cleveland, their surprising links with movie posters and commercial art, the ways in which they challenged the artistic and social mores of their time, the demise of this group during the Great Depression, and the lasting impact of this movement on several noted figures in American art, as well as, more widely, on the imagery of American popular culture.
Richard Meryman, Andrew Wyeth biographer and lifelong friend; reporter, correspondent, editor, and staff writer, Life magazine. Richard Meryman began an enduring friendship with Andrew Wyeth while writing for Life magazine in 1964. Over four decades, he recorded some 600 hours of conversations with Wyeth as well as with family, friends, and neighbors in Pennsylvania and Maine — including Christina Olson, subject of the renowned painting Christina’s World. Meryman’s book Andrew Wyeth: A Spoken Self-Portrait offers a taste of those recordings, skillfully crafted into five monologues on key themes in Wyeth’s work. In this lecture recorded on May 18, 2014, in honor of the exhibition Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In, Meryman shares a selection of audio recordings and the process of writing about Wyeth’s spoken self-portrait. We hear Wyeth speak vividly of people and places that triggered memories and emotions to which he gave powerful expression in his art. He shares personal experiences and talks about artists who inspired him and why, revealing profound understanding of these influences. The exhibition, organized by the National Gallery of Art, will be on view only in Washington through November 30, 2014.
Daphne Barbour, senior object conservator; Melanie Gifford, research conservator; Lisha Glinsman, conservation scientist; Alison Luchs, curator of early European sculpture; and Kimberly Schenck, head of paper conservation, National Gallery of Art. FACTURE: Conservation · Science · Art History is a new biennial journal from the National Gallery of Art that introduces the latest research on works in its permanent collection. Named for “the manner in which things are made,” the journal presents essays on conservation treatment, scientific research, and technical art history. This study undertaken at the Gallery focuses on artists' methods and materials—identifying the materials used by artists, understanding the ways in which different artists handled these materials, and discerning how to preserve the qualities the artists prized. In honor of the inaugural volume, this lecture recorded on January 12, 2014, focuses on Renaissance masterworks—painting, sculpture, textiles, and works on paper—in the Gallery's collection.
Eileen Costello, editor and project director, The Catalogue Raisonné of the Drawings of Jasper Johns, The Menil Collection. Over the course of his prolific career, from early 1960s monochrome paintings to more recent work inspired by Chinese art and culture, Brice Marden has established himself as one of the most important abstract painters of our time. In this lecture recorded on June 30, 2013, at the National Gallery of Art, Eileen Costello discusses her new book Brice Marden: Phaidon Focus. Costello tracks Marden’s development as an artist and provides insight into his significance by exploring his works’ origins, meaning, and media.
Debra Pincus, independent scholar. The letterforms of antiquity—both capitals and small letters—were brought back to life in the Renaissance, the result of a fervent study of ancient inscriptions and manuscripts. These revived antique letters are the letters that we use today. In this lecture recorded on June 16, 2013 at the National Gallery of Art, Debra Pincus talks about the process of recovery in the 15th century, and the particular role played by Venice and nearby territory in making antique letters available to Renaissance artists, calligraphers, humanists, and, ultimately, to printers of books.
Ross King, author. Although celebrated today as one of the world’s greatest paintings, Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper had unusual and inauspicious beginnings. In this lecture recorded on June 9, 2013 at the National Gallery of Art, author Ross King discusses the circumstances surrounding the creation of The Last Supper, including Leonardo’s unorthodox painting technique and his relationship with his patron, the Duke of Milan. King describes how despite never having worked on such a large painting and never having worked with the difficult medium of fresco, Leonardo created the masterpiece that would define him forever.
Mark Samuels Lasner, senior research fellow, University of Delaware Library, in conversation with Diane Waggoner, associate curator, department of photographs, National Gallery of Art. William Morris (1834-1896) gained fame as a designer, poet, socialist, founder of the arts and crafts movement, and maker of beautiful books at his Kelmscott Press, founded in 1891. In this conversation recorded on May 6, 2013 at the National Gallery of Art, Mark Samuels Lasner and Diane Waggoner explore Morris's lifelong, multifaceted engagement with print—as a reader, author, collector, calligrapher, typographer, printer, and publisher—that culminated with the publication of the great Kelmscott Chaucer just before his death. Samuels Lasner will also discuss his own collecting of the works of Morris and his circle. Selections from the Mark Samuels Lasner Collection, on loan to the University of Delaware Library, are included in two concurrent exhibitions at the National Gallery of Art: Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Art and Design, 1848-1900 (February 17-May 19, 2013) and Pre-Raphaelites and the Book (February 9-August 4, 2013).
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.
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.
Marina Belozerskaya, independent scholar Exotic animals have been sought and collected by rulers for millennia, going back to Egyptian pharaohs and Mesopotamian kings. But how they have been used varied from culture to culture, reflecting the concerns of a particular time and place. In this lecture recorded on June 17, 2012, at the National Gallery of Art, Marina Belozerskaya discusses the uses of exotic beasts in Europe between the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, and the shifting purposes they served, from emulation of antiquity to building encyclopedic collections to spurring scientific and economic progress
Andrew Graham-Dixon, art critic. For 400 years Caravaggio's staggering artistic achievements have thrilled viewers, yet his volatile personal trajectory- the murder of Ranuccio Tommassoni, the doubt surrounding Caravaggio's sexuality, the chain of events that began with his imprisonment on Malta and ended with his premature death- has long confounded historians. Andrew Graham-Dixon delves into the original Italian sources, presenting fresh details about Caravaggio's life (1571-1610), his many crimes and public brawls, and the most convincing account yet published of the painter's tragic death at the age of thirty-eight. With illuminating readings of Caravaggio's infamous religious paintings, for which Caravaggio often used prostitutes and poor people as models, Graham-Dixon immerses listeners into the artist's world, during the height of the Counter-Reformation in Italy, and creates a masterful profile of the mercurial painter's life and work.
Bridget R. Cooks, associate professor of art history and African American studies, University of California, Irvine. In this lecture, recorded at the National Gallery of Art on March 4, 2012, Professor Cooks presents research from her book Exhibiting Blackness: African Americans and the American Art Museum, in which she analyzes the curatorial strategies, challenges, and critical reception of the most significant museum exhibitions of African-American art in the United States. Cooks also exposes the issues involved in exhibiting cultural differences that continue to challenge art history, historiography, and American museum exhibition practices.
David Bindman, emeritus professor of the history of art, University College London; Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, Harvard University; and Sharmila Sen, executive editor-at-large, Harvard University Press. Moderated by Faya Causey, head of academic programs, National Gallery of Art. Since the initial Washington launch of the Image of the Black in Western Art series at the National Gallery of Art in December 2010, two new volumes have been published, bringing the total to six of the ten planned. This panel discussion celebrates the publication of the latest two volumes in this landmark series, which examines the 16th through the 18th century. The 18th century, in particular, was a significant period that saw European slavery reach its apogee and the rise of the abolition movement. Recorded on December 11, 2011, this podcast features Professor David Bindman, who briefly introduces the series and highlights selections from the new volumes; Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. discusses portraits of the real people depicted; and editor Sharmila Sen speaks on the publication of the new volumes.
A two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author and recipient of the National Book Award, David McCullough discusses his new book, The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris. In this podcast recorded on September 26, 2011, at the National Gallery of Art, McCullough tells the story of America's longstanding love affair with Paris through vivid portraits of dozens of significant characters. Notably, artist Samuel F. B. Morse is depicted as he worked on his masterpiece The Gallery of the Louvre. McCullough spoke at the Gallery in honor of the exhibition A New Look: Samuel F. B. Morse's "Gallery of the Louvre," on view from June 25, 2011, to July 8, 2012. The exhibition and program were coordinated with and supported by the Terra Foundation for American Art.
Sarah Greenough, senior curator and head of the department of photographs, National Gallery of Art. Sarah Greenough talks about her new book on the letters of Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, Volume One, 1915-1933, in this podcast recorded on September 18, 2011, at the National Gallery of Art. Greenough notes the insights provided by the correspondence on their art, their friendships with many key figures of early twentieth-century American art and culture, and, most especially, their relationship with each other.
Sandy Nairne, director, National Portrait Gallery, London. In 1994 two important paintings by J.M.W. Turner were stolen from a public gallery in Frankfurt, Germany, while on loan from the Tate in London. In this podcast recorded on September 15, 2011, at the National Gallery of Art Sandy Nairne reveals his own involvement, as then director of programs at the Tate, in the pursuit of the pictures and in the negotiation for their return. Nairne shares this story in his new book, Art Theft and the Tate's Stolen Turners, also examining other high-value art thefts and trying to solve the puzzle of why thieves steal well-known works of art that cannot be sold, even on the black market.
Meryle Secrest, author. In this podcast recorded on June 19, 2011, at the National Gallery of Art, author Meryle Secrest reveals a portrait of one of the twentieth century's master painters and sculptors, Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920). Secrest is an accomplished biographer of art-world personalities such as Bernard Berenson, Joseph Duveen, Salvador Dali, Kenneth Clark, and Frank Lloyd Wright. In her new book, Modigliani: A Life, Secrest shows to what lengths Modigliani went to hide his tuberculosis and cement his status as a major artist.
Daphne Barbour, senior conservator, department of object conservation, National Gallery of Art; Suzanne G. Lindsay, adjunct associate professor in the history of art, University of Pennsylvania; and Shelley Sturman, senior conservator and head of the department of object conservation, National Gallery of Art. This podcast, recorded on January 30, 2011, celebrates the publication of Edgar Degas Sculpture, The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue, which documents the Gallery's collection of the artist's lifetime sculptures—the largest of its kind in the world. Catalogue authors Daphne Barbour, Suzanne Lindsay, and Shelley Sturman present their contributions to the landmark publication, including essays on Degas' life and work, his sculptural technique and materials, and the story of the sculptures after his death. The technical analysis reveals that Degas usually built his own armatures from wires, wood, and metal pins, and formed the sculptures over them and fillers he had at hand: cork stoppers, paper, rope, rags, and even discarded objects such as the lid of a saltshaker.
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
Alison Luchs, curator of early European sculpture, National Gallery of Art. Fantastic sea creatures can be found in early Venetian printed books, tomb sculpture, churches, political settings, and small bronzes. In such diverse contexts these figures convey a wide range of moods, from festive to poetic to tragic. In this podcast, recorded on September 12, 2010, at the National Gallery of Art, Alison Luchs explores the ways Venetian Renaissance artists interpreted a variety of mythical hybrid sea creatures that were handed down, through art and literature, from the ancient and medieval worlds. Purchase her book, The Mermaids of Venice: Fantastic Sea Creatures in Venetian Renaissance Art
Bill Morgan, writer and archivist Bill Morgan, the preeminent authority on the Beat Generation, discusses his work as the archivist and bibliographer for his personal friend, American poet Allen Ginsberg, on the occasion of the Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg exhibition at the National Gallery of Art. In this podcast recorded on Sunday, July 11, 2010, Morgan explains that Ginsberg was either an archivist's dream come true or worst nightmare, since the poet saved everything from his childhood in New Jersey and took pictures of his friends, knowing that they were destined for fame. Through rarely seen archival material and photographs, Morgan chronicles Ginsberg's relationships, which began the Beat Generation.
Sarah Greenough, senior curator, department of photographs, National Gallery of Art, Washington, and Bill Morgan, author and Ginsberg archivist. In the early 1980s American poet Allen Ginsberg rediscovered his early photographs and negatives taken throughout the Beat movement. With encouragement from photographers Berenice Abbott and Robert Frank, he reprinted many of these works and made new portraits of longtime friends and new acquaintances, such as Francesco Clemente and Bob Dylan, adding extensive inscriptions by hand. In the second of this two-part podcast series, produced on the occasion of the exhibition Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg, Greenough talks with Bill Morgan about cataloguing the poet's archives and his photographic contributions in the last 15 years of his life.
Sarah Greenough, senior curator, department of photographs, National Gallery of Art, Washington, and Bill Morgan, author and Ginsberg archivist. American poet Allen Ginsberg took occasional snapshots in the 1940s, but in 1953 he purchased a small, secondhand Kodak camera that he took with him everywhere. For the next decade, he made numerous portraits of himself and his friends, including the writers Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, while also formulating and refining his poetic voice. In the first of this two-part podcast series, produced on the occasion of the exhibition Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg, Greenough talks with Bill Morgan about the poet's role in documenting the Beat movement.
Robert M. Edsel, author, founder, and president, Monuments Men Foundation for the Preservation of Art. During World War II, a special force known as the Monuments Men, of museum directors, curators, art historians, and others from 13 different nations, risked their lives to prevent the destruction of cultural treasures Robert M. Edsel, author of The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History, discusses how these men and women protected what they could of Europe's great art in this podcast recorded on January 17, 2010, at the National Gallery of Art.
Using a handheld 35 mm 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 states. On the occasion of the November 1 opening of Bergman's first solo exhibition, Toni Morrison read her essay "The Fisherwoman," which was originally written for Bergman's book A Kind of Rapture.
Jonathan Conlin, lecturer in modern history, University of Southampton; Maygene Daniels, chief of Gallery Archives, National Gallery of Art; Margaret Parsons, head of film programs, National Gallery of Art; and Faya Causey, head of academic programs, National Gallery of Art. In the BBC television series "Civilisation," Kenneth Clark stated it's arguable that Western civilization was saved by its craftsmen. The National Gallery of Art commemorated the 40th anniversary of the series with a panel discussion, Celebrating "Civilisation," recorded on October 17, 2009.
Michael Fried, J. R. Herbert Boone Professor of Humanities, The Johns Hopkins University, in conversation with Harry Cooper, curator and head of the department of modern and contemporary art, National Gallery of Art. To celebrate the publication of his recent book, Why Photography Matters as Art as Never Before, Michael Fried spoke with Harry Cooper, his former student, about the place of photography in contemporary art. In this podcast, recorded on January 25, 2009, at the National Gallery of Art, the conversation centered on such topics as the relationship between the photograph and the viewer, the essential characteristics (if any) of photographs, and issues of realism and literalism, narrative and theatricality. Artists discussed included Jeff Wall, Thomas Struth, Thomas Demand, Andreas Gursky, and others.
Robert Kolker, professor, Film Studies & Digital Media, School of Literature, Communication, and Culture, Georgia Institute of Technology, and James Naremore, Chancellor's Professor of Speech Communication, Chancellor's Professor of Comparative Literature, Chancellor's Professor of English, professor of film studies, Indiana University. July 26, 2008 marked the 80th birthday of Stanley Kubrick. To celebrate the occasion, Robert Kolker and James Naremore reviewed the director's contributions through a focused dialogue based on two of Kubrick's landmark films: a new restoration of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb and his last and most enigmatic work, Eyes Wide Shut. Robert Kolker edited Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey: New Essays (2006) and James Naremore is the author of On Kubrick (2007).
Charles Ritchie, associate curator of modern prints and drawings, National Gallery of Art, and Mary Lynn Kotz, Rauschenberg biographer. Robert Rauschenberg has consistently created vital art for more than 50 years and family relationships have been influential. In the third episode of this four-part series, Gallery curator Charles Ritchie and Rauschenberg biographer Mary Lynn Kotz discuss the role that the artist's parents played in his becoming an artist, and how his strained relationship with his father affected his art. Produced in conjunction with the exhibition Let the World In: Prints by Robert Rauschenberg from the National Gallery of Art and Related Collections.
Charles Ritchie, associate curator of modern prints and drawings, National Gallery of Art, and Mary Lynn Kotz, Rauschenberg biographer. Robert Rauschenberg has consistently created vital art for more than 50 years. Everything from newspaper clippings to family images is crucial to his work. In the second episode of this four-part series, Gallery curator Charles Ritchie and Rauschenberg biographer May Lynn Kotz discuss how Rauschenberg's art has always incorporated both personal and global references. Produced in conjunction with the exhibition Let the World In: Prints by Robert Rauschenberg from the National Gallery of Art and Related Collections.
Charles Ritchie, associate curator of modern prints and drawings, National Gallery of Art, and Mary Lynn Kotz, Rauschenberg biographer. Robert Rauschenberg has consistently created vital art for more than 50 years. In the first episode of this four-part series, Gallery curator Charles Ritchie and Rauschenberg biographer Mary Lynn Kotz discuss why the artist chose printmaking as a favorite medium and why collaboration has been central to his creative process. Produced in conjunction with the exhibition Let the World In: Prints by Robert Rauschenberg from the National Gallery of Art and Related Collections.
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.
David Cannadine, director and professor, Institute of Historical Research, University of London To celebrate the landmark publication Mellon: An American Life, David Cannadine inaugurated and concluded his U.S. book tour at the National Gallery of Art with lectures on the founding benefactor of the Gallery, Andrew W. Mellon (1855-1937). In this second lecture recorded on December 9, 2006, Cannadine concentrates on Mellon's art collecting as his only nonprofessional gratification, and his great gift of the Gallery to the nation. His son Paul Mellon commissioned this biography in the mid-1990s to document the magnitude and range of his father's contributions to American history. Preeminent in the diverse fields of business, politics, art collecting, and philanthropy, Mellon was one of the greatest art collectors and philanthropists of his generation. According to Cannadine, the Gallery remains Mellon's culminating and most tangible legacy, although he did not live to see its completion and dedication on March 17, 1941.
David Cannadine, director and professor, Institute of Historical Research, University of London. David Cannadine launched the U.S. book tour for his landmark publication, Mellon: An American Life- the first commissioned biography of the great American industrialist and founding benefactor of the National Gallery of Art, Andrew W. Mellon- on October 8, 2006, at the National Gallery of Art. Mellon was born in Pittsburgh in 1855 and over time established himself as preeminent in four different fields: business, politics, art collecting, and philanthropy. He died in 1937. In this lecture, Cannadine describes Mellon's life and work before creating the Gallery as a gift to the nation- "from the smokestacks of Pittsburgh to the matchless, stripped neoclassical [West] Building." In explaining the magnitude and range of Mellon's contribution to American history, Cannadine starts with his business career as banker and creator of iconic American companies, and his political career as Secretary of the Treasury (1921-1932) and U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain (1932-1933). Cannadine finished his tour with a second lecture at the Gallery on December 9, 2006. This second lecture, titled Andrew W. Mellon: Collecting for the Nation, focused on Mellon's art collecting and philanthropy, and on the Gallery as the culminating and most enduring endeavor of his life.
David A. Doheny, lawyer and former general counsel of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In this podcast recorded on June 17, 2006, David A. Doheny presents a lecture in conjunction with the publication of his book, David Finley: Quiet Force for America's Arts. Doheny discusses the relationship between Andrew W. Mellon and David E. Finley Jr., the National Gallery of Art's first director. Finley played an influential role in Mellon's acquisition of works from the Italian Renaissance, in particular the 1936 purchase of 30 paintings and 24 sculptures from Lord Joseph Duveen. In January 1937, Mellon formally presented to President Roosevelt his proposal to create the National Gallery of Art for the American public. On March 24, 1937, an act of Congress accepted Mellon's art collection as well as funds for the museum and approved plans for an elegant building on the National Mall designed by John Russell Pope. When Mellon and Pope both died within a day of each other later that year, Finley oversaw the construction and completion of the Gallery. Finley was also responsible for acquiring important collections for the Gallery, including those of Samuel H. Kress, Joseph E. Widener, Chester Dale, and Lessing J. Rosenwald.
Michael Kimmelman, chief art critic, The New York Times, in conversation with Deborah Ziska, chief of press and public information, National Gallery of Art. To honor the publication of The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa, Michael Kimmelman joined Deborah Ziska to discuss the inspiration for and purpose of his latest book. In this conversation recorded on September 24, 2005 at the National Gallery of Art, Kimmelman explains the desire to write about art that had changed his life. The Accidental Masterpiece explores art as life's great passion, revealing what can be learned from works of fine art and their creators. Kimmelman assures the reader that, even though art may seem inaccessible, beauty can be found almost anywhere and everywhere that one is open to the experience of it. The Accidental Masterpiece serves as a kind of adventure or journey, leading to a larger view of life through art.
John Hollander, Sterling Professor of English, Yale University. Works of art are silent; poetry speaks its mind. Painting is mute poetry, poetry a speaking picture. Beginning with classical writers, poet and literary critic John Hollander explains that art and literature have developed a wide variety of relationships over the course of 2,000 years. In this lecture recorded on November 4, 2001 at the National Gallery of Art, Hollander specifically explores the ekphrastic relationship between a particular work of visual art or architecture and a particular poem. The word ekphrastic comes from the Greek ek and phrasis, meaning “out” and “speak,” respectively—to give voice to the silent work of art by speaking for it, out of it, or, in so many ways, to it. Hollander distinguishes between actual and notional ekphrasis, invocations of actual works of art versus speaking of fictional works that exist only in description. He then reads from works by very different contemporary poets and connects them with corresponding works of art that the poems had in mind or in view.
Arthur C. Danto, Jonathan Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Columbia University, and art critic, The Nation. In this lecture recorded on September 19, 1993, at the National Gallery of Art, Arthur C. Danto assesses early works in Pablo Picasso's (1881-973) career as a starting point for considering the concept of the masterpiece. The understandable but obsessive tendency of Picasso scholarship has been to treat even his simplest works as evidence that his cognitive powers had almost mythic dimensions. Danto argues that much of Picasso's early work became part of history only retrospectively because he became a great artist- mythic a priori. An artist makes certain choices in materials when he believes himself to be embarking on a masterpiece. By investing in a large-scale canvas, its lining, and other expensive materials for a painting, an artist demonstrates the meaning this particular work intended to have relative to his other works so far. It is a conservation gesture-not part of the internal or aesthetic meaning of the work, but a declaration of achievement and hope. Citing Picasso's rose period work Family of Saltimbanques (1905), in the Gallery's collection, and the African-influenced period work Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907), Danto considers the meaning of a masterpiece in an artist's life in terms of the language of beginnings and endings. One works up to a masterpiece, which defines a period of endeavor, and after that the artist may change direction entirely.
- 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)