KLIATTThese new additions to an attractive series are based on traveling exhibitions of works culled from the Smithsonian's outstanding collection of American art. They feature full-page, full-color pictures of paintings, sculpture, and weaving52 illustrations in each volume. The authors, professors and curators of art at various institutions, supply detailed information about each work of art, as well as on each artist. These handsome books would augment any art class or high school or public library collection on American art. (Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum series) KLIATT Codes: JSARecommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, Watson-Gutpill, 112p. illus. index. 24cm., $19.95 each. Ages 13 to adult. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; KLIATT , July 2001 (Vol. 35, No. 4)
Library JournalAlthough often overshadowed by the National Gallery, the Smithsonian American Art Museum (formerly the National Museum of American Art) possesses the largest collection of American artwork in the world. While its quarters in Washington's Old Patent Office Building are being renovated, 500 of its best objects are traveling to dozens of regional venues across the country. These catalogs represent half of the museum's eight thematic exhibitions. Each book is a carbon copy of its sister publications in format, tone, number of works, and level of detail or lack thereof. Each is a handheld version of the show itself and nothing more: there is no index or bibliography and only the slimmest of supplementary texts. After a paragraph of summary embedded in a boilerplate introductory essay, roughly 50 works are shown in large color plates and accompanied by a two-paragraph caption resembling what one could find in gallery wall labels. While sometimes straining to point out the obvious, these brief comments are nevertheless often piquant observations of each piece's aesthetic values. With such an exceptional collection to select from, the shows are curatorial tours de force. Modernism & Abstraction is an outstanding arrangement of 20th-century artwork with many landmark works by giants of the American avant-garde, while Arte Latino presents a great variety of style, media, and subject matter within a collection of mostly contemporary pieces by Latino-American artists. A good introduction to the genre, Contemporary Folk Art is an interesting potpourri of assemblages and paintings both na ve and savvy. Scenes of American Life focuses almost exclusively on the lives of common citizens and is dominated by Depression-era paintings and murals. These works are nicely illustrated, but with little supportive text they can be recommended only for libraries not already owning the museum's 1995 or 1985 catalogs. Douglas F. Smith, Oakland P.L. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
BooknewsPublished in conjunction with one of the Smithsonian American Art Museum's touring exhibitions (there are eight on tour through 2002). This is an engaging collection of about 50 paintings representing 20th century art in America, with brief interpretative commentary by art historian McClintic. Among the artists (each represented by one work): Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Willem de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Robert Rauschenberg, Alma Thomas. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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