Release Date: June 24, 2020
The Gallery has just acquired I See Red: Target (1992) by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (b. 1940), the first painting by a Native American artist to enter the collection. Smith, an enrolled Salish member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation in Montana, is one of the most highly respected artists of the past 40 years. An impressive 11-foot-tall mixed-media work on canvas, I See Red: Target addresses both local and national conversations around the commercial branding of Indigenous American identity through Smith's deftly layered assemblage of printed ephemera and painterly touches. This painting joins 24 works—either photographs or works on paper—by Native American artists currently in the Gallery's permanent collection. Other artists represented include Sally Larsen, Victor Masayesva Jr., and Kay WalkingStick.
I See Red: Target features a target and darts that are arranged at the top of the work to allude to feathers in a headdress. Smith attached two canvases collaged with clippings from mainstream newspapers as well as the Char-Koosta News, a comic book cover, fabric, and a pennant. The alternating bands of historic images of Native Americans used in a reservation community service notice bear the stain-like drips of bloodred paint, which serve as an evocative device throughout Smith's I See Red series to call up issues of history, identity, race, and rage.
The Gallery has acquired its first work by Colombian artist María Berrío (b. 1982), who is known for her luminous collages of Japanese papers painted with watercolor. She arranges the collages to depict female figures in spaces of refuge and imagined utopias that incorporate the cultural influences and flora of South America.
In A Sunburst Restrained (2019) two female figures recline in a tiled setting. A fluid pink ground fills the bottom third of the composition, over which a branch full of leaves and lemons appears, cutting across the foreground and cropped by the bottom edge of the canvas. The artist attributes her inspiration for this work to Pablo Neruda’s poem "Ode to a Lemon," which links the greatness of celestial light to the modest but life-affirming form of a lemon. Berrío has imbued her rendering of the two women and the lemons with such barely contained vitality and light.
The Gallery has acquired a photograph by Barbara Morgan (1900–1992) of pioneering American choreographer and dancer Martha Graham. Morgan met Graham in 1935 and embarked upon a series of photographs of Graham and her dance company. Graham created a series of dances based on American subjects, including American Document, which incorporated episodes from American history set to music by Ray Green and accompanied by spoken quotations from historical documents. Martha Graham, American Document (“Puritan Love Duet” with Erick Hawkins) (1938) shows Graham in one section of the dance, “Puritan Love Duet,” with Hawkins, the first male dancer to appear with Graham’s company. Morgan’s photograph joins one other photograph and two prints by the artist in the Gallery's collection.
Release Date: January 16, 2020
The Gallery has acquired one of Oliver Lee Jackson's (b. 1935) most remarkable works, the large Triptych (3.20.15, 5.21.15, 6.8.15) (2015), consisting almost entirely of colored felt cut and applied to board. In each panel, dark forms suggesting figures or parts of figures seem to move, dance, or run in and through fields of light blue, orange, pink, green, and white. Figurative references—looming heads and recumbent bodies—are also contained within the fields of color. The imagery, with its simultaneous suggestions of joy and intense energy, dance and flight, echoes thematic material that has permeated Jackson's career, from the dynamism of his works of the 1970s inspired by newspaper photographs of the 1960 massacre in Sharpeville, South Africa, to persistent themes of a grand dance evoking a sense of spectacle and ritual. While collage and cut-outs have a long history in 20th-century art, Jackson's embrace of felt, which he values for its saturated color and optical neutrality, is distinctive. He folds and overlaps the cloth to create sensations of depth that complicate (without ever contradicting) the inherent flatness of the materials.
Triptych joins four paintings by Jackson that are already in the collection, expanding the Gallery's holdings of the work of this powerful modern American artist.
Laurie Tylec, (202) 842-6355 or [email protected]
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