DC -- Donald W. Reynolds Center (SAAM archives) -- Exhibit: Words Cannot Express:
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Description of Pictures: Words Cannot Express: Death in the Archives
October 31, 2011 – December 31, 2011
Death is perhaps the only certainty in life. For those experiencing the death of a friend, family member, loved one, or an admired figure, words are often inadequate to give voice to the intense emotions involved. When an artist dies, his or her life’s work is complete, and the building of a legacy begins. The Archives of American Art is part of that legacy-building process, preserving the remnants of artists’ lives in letters, diaries, sketchbooks, scrapbooks, and other primary records. This exhibition explores responses to death in the art world—from letters of condolence and drafts of eulogies to firsthand accounts of artists’ funerals and expressions of personal loss.
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Copyrights: All pictures were taken by amateur photographer Bruce Guthrie (me!) who retains copyright on them. Free for non-commercial use with attribution. See the [Creative Commons] definition of what this means. "Photos (c) Bruce Guthrie" is fine for attribution. Feel free to use in publications and pages with attribution but you don't have permission to sell the photos themselves. A free copy of any printed publication using any photographs is requested. Descriptive text, if any, is from a mixture of sources, quite frequently from signs at the location or from official web sites; copyrights, if any, are retained by their original owners.
Specific picture descriptions: Photos above with "i" icons next to the bracketed sequence numbers (e.g. " ") are described as follows:
SIPGWR_111119_01.JPG: Words Cannot Express
Death in the Archives
SIPGWR_111119_04.JPG: Words Cannot Express:
Death in the Archives
It is perhaps the only certainty in life. For those experiencing the death of a friend, family member, loved one, or an admired figure, words are often inadequate to give voice to the intense emotions involved.
When an artist dies, his or her life’s work is complete, and the building of a legacy begins. The Archives of American Art is part of that legacy-building process, preserving the remnants of artists’ lives in letters, diaries, sketchbooks, scrapbooks, and other primary records. Among these documents are countless examples of people responding to death in the art world—from letters of condolence and drafts of eulogies, to firsthand accounts of artists’ funerals and expressions of personal loss.
The death of an artist evokes powerful emotions in the living, even as it crystallizes the deceased’s contributions to the art world. This exhibition presents the power of people speaking from their hearts about American art and artists.
SIPGWR_111119_09.JPG: Walter Pach diary, 1903 June 24 through Sept. 14
Creator: Walter Pach
The celebrated and outspoken American painter and etcher James McNeill Whistler died unexpectedly in London on July 17, 1903, at age 69. Obituaries praised him as a “genius,” “one of the world’s great artists,” and “the originator of a new style.” The shock of his death was felt in art circles around the world. He introduced a subtle style of painting in which atmosphere and mood predominated. In the summer of 1903, American painter William Merritt Chase, also a renowned teacher, took his class abroad. In a diary entry made by his student Walter Pach (1883–1958), Chase announced the death of Whistler to the group: “Mr. Chase said at crit. that Whistler is dead. Great stir. Mr. Chase spoke finely about him.” Later in the day, Pach tried to sketch but gave up, writing, “the Whistler light was too much for me.”
SIPGWR_111119_21.JPG: Jackson Pollock (1912-1956):
On the night of August 11, 1956, painter Jackson Pollock, driving drunk, died in a car crash near his home in Springs on Long Island. Two women, Edith Metzger and Pollock's mistress Ruth Klingman, were in the front seat. Metzger died. Klingman survived. Pollock's wife, painter Lee Krasner, was in Paris at the time of the accident. Pollock's technique of pouring and dripping paint made him the most famous and most controversial painter of his time. Like actor James Dean, who died a year earlier in a car crash, Pollock's tragic death at age 44 solidified his image as a legendary rebel.
SIPGWR_111119_26.JPG: Mark Rothko letter to Lee Krasner, 1956 Aug. 16
Creator: Mark Rothko
Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock were two of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, both created new and fervent forms of abstract painting. When Pollock died, Rothko wrote to Lee Krasner, “…in addition to his stature as a great artist, his specific life and struggle had become poignant and important in meaning to me, and were a great deal in my thoughts; and that the great loss that I feel is not an abstract thing at all.”
SIPGWR_111119_32.JPG: Solon H. Borglum's funeral, 1922 Jan. or Feb.
SIPGWR_111119_38.JPG: In Memoriam poem for John Peto, 1907 Nov. 30
Creator: Samuel Callan
Although John Frederick Peto is now recognized as one of America’s great trompe l’oeil (“fool the eye”) painters, he died in obscurity. Interest in Peto revived in 1949, when it was proved that many paintings attributed to trompe l’oeil master William Harnett were actually Peto’s work. At Peto’s death in 1907, his friend Samuel Callan penned a memorial poem that foreshadows Peto’s future fame: So modest, he no master’s skill did claim, In stature small, his heart was large, sincere; Still, Lights of Other Days may make his fame, And, praise award he seldom knew while here. Lights of Other Days, a 1906 painting, is now considered to be Peto’s masterpiece.
SIPGWR_111119_49.JPG: James McNeill Whistler note to unidentified recipient, Cambridge, England, 1896
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2011 photos: Equipment this year: I mostly used the Fuji S100fs camera as well as two Nikon models -- the D90 and the new D7000. Mostly a toy, I also purchased a Fuji Real 3-D W3 camera, to try out 3-D photographs. I found it interesting although I don't see any real use for 3-D stills now. Given that many of the photos from the 1860s were in 3-D (including some of the more famous Civil War shots), it's odd to see it coming back.
Trips this year: Savannah, GA in March to cover a Civil War Trust conference. New Jersey over Memorial Day for my birthday -- people never seem to visit New Jersey -- it's always just a pit stop on the way to New York. I thought I might as well spend a few days there. Despite some nice places, it still ended up a pit stop for me -- New York City was infinitely more interesting. I did my annual pilgrimage to the San Diego Comic-Con in July, adding a few days in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Chattanooga, TN to cover the Civil War Trust's Grand Review conference.
Ego strokes: Author photos that I took were used on two book jackets this year: Jason Emerson's book "The Dark Days of Abraham Lincoln's Widow As Revealed by Her Own Letters" and Dennis L. Noble's "The U.S. Coast Guard's War on Human Smuggling." I also had a photo of Jason Stelter published in the Washington Examiner and a picture of Miss DC, Ashley Boalch, published in the Washington Post.
Number of photos taken this year: just over 390,000.