Art & Artists

Olive Trees With Yellow Sky and Sun, oil on canvas, 1889. Van Gogh painted several of his most famous works while at the asylum, including his Iris series and The Starry Night.

When Van Gogh Spoke for the Trees

A new exhibition of lesser known works during a pivotal time sheds light on his budding genius

All are welcome at Papunya Tula's art centers.

Australia's Western Desert Art Movement Turns 50

Since 1972, hundreds of artists have painted under the guidance of Papunya Tula, one of the most respected players in the world of Indigenous art

The natural colors of a stoneware tea bowl from Japan and dating to 1510-1530 "speak of the spaces where Zen Buddhists practiced," says the Reverend Inryū Bobbi Poncé-Barger, a priest for the All Beings Zen Sangha in Washington, D.C.

How to Find Wholeness in the Cracks of a 16th-Century Tea Bowl

A new exhibition, “Mind Over Matter,” invites viewers to pause and connect with the teachings of Zen Buddhism

Richard Nixon (detail) by George Giusti, 1973

View the Granddaddy of Political Scandals in Oils, Cartoons and Sculpture

The 1972 Watergate break-in that led to Richard Nixon's resignation is the subject of a new exhibition

The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture acquired three works by Elizabeth Catlett, representing the artist's impassioned devotion to the dignity, struggle and uplift. 

A Trio of Elizabeth Catlett Sculptures Convey the Power of Service to Humanity

Regarded as “guardians of the Black narrative,” the artworks greet visitors to NMAAHC’s Heritage Hall

Dance of the Heyoka by Oscar Howe (Yanktonai Dakota), 1954

Who Gets to Define Native American Art?

A pivotal letter from Oscar Howe, whose work is the focus of a new exhibition, demanded the right to free expression and the art world began to listen

Emily Erdos, Harvard, Massachusetts, United States 

A map is supposed to symbolize travel, discovery, and possibility, almost all of which COVID-19 has suppressed. I don’t know what comes next, or which metaphorical life turn to take during this time of perpetual uncertainty. As a friend once wrote to me, a map has a quality of authority: Follow the directions, stick to the rules, don’t digress, and you will get to where you want to go. In this time, we all tried to follow the rules, to follow the map, and yet we still got (or are getting) lost in a new normal. 

But maps can encapsulate virtual as well as physical realities. They can symbolize home as much as “awayness.” For me, home is a place, but it’s also people. During the pandemic, those people have been spread across the globe, and my only connection to them is through a screen. So my map is a series of mini, virtual, people-centered maps. Knowing that the person behind each map has their own world and journey gives me comfort. Even more so knowing that those journeys, though currently only virtually connected, will physically intersect again someday.

This Pandemic Mapping Project Shows How Covid-19 Transformed Our Worlds

Hundreds of homemade maps reveal how people from around the globe found their ways through crisis

Detail of a carpet of flowers and colored sawdust in Antigua, Guatemala

Good News

This Guatemalan City Rolls Out Colorful Sawdust Carpets for Holy Week

The longstanding tradition brings a dazzling display to the streets of Antigua each spring

The four-day Smithsonian Craft Show opens April 20 at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., offering the works of 120 artists (above: an array of offerings).

Nine Artists on What It Means to Create

Forty years of bringing critical attention to the nation's best-known makers in the arts is celebrated at this year's Smithsonian Craft Show

Burger or baked good?

'Is It Cake?' Builds on a Lengthy Tradition of Visual Deception

The ‘fool the eye’ desserts hearken back to paintings from a period in American history when there was anxiety over fakes, fraudsters and misinformation

The Painter (Self-portrait at Work), oil on canvas, 1946. Gilot painted the self-portrait while she and Picasso were staying in Antibes, on the French Riviera.

Françoise Gilot Was More Than Picasso's Muse

The artist famously inspired the Cubist, but a new book shows that her own paintings deserve renown

Dried cochineal insects — shown here in the center of the photo — can be processed to create several natural dyes such as carmine and cochineal extract. These products get their red hue from carminic acid, a chemical found within the insect.

Scientists Are Making Cochineal, a Red Dye From Bugs, in the Lab

Used to color foods and cosmetics, carminic acid is traditionally 'farmed' from an insect. But researchers are moving to engineer it in microbes

A museum patron enjoys Yayoi Kusama's latest work, Infinity Mirrored Room—My Heart Is Dancing into the Universe (2018), where paper lanterns and dots endlessly multiply inside the chamber.

Art Sensation Yayoi Kusama Wraps Visitors in Polka Dots, Pumpkins and a World Without End

A new Infinity Mirror Room with its forever-repeating lights and imagery opens at the Hirshhorn with other works by the iconic artist

A 1997 photo of Madeleine Albright, who died at age 84 on March 23, 2022

Madeleine Albright on Her Life in Pins

In 2010, the former secretary of state reflected on her famous collection of brooches and pins

"Fathering" is a theme of the show, (above: Father and Son at Lake Michigan, detail, by Wayne F. Miller, 1946-1948) as crucial experience and wisdom is provided by fathers, uncles, teachers and coaches. 

How Black Men Changed the World

A Smithsonian traveling exhibition powerfully dismantles corrosive myths with triumphant portraits and the stories of African American men

The Smithsonian has 39 of the Benin pieces in its collections, above: Commemorative head of a king, Edo artist, 18th century.

The Smithsonian's Plan to Return the Benin Bronzes Comes After Years of Relationship Building

The ground-breaking move heralds a new path for interactions between African and Western institutions

An early 18th-century Indian watercolor of a mounted hunter keeping an eye on a bird at the moment of an attack is featured in the show "Falcons: The Art of the Hunt" at the Freer Gallery of Art, part of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art.

A Museum Show Takes Visitors on a Hunt for the Birds of Prey Populating Centuries of Artworks

From an ancient Egyptian plaque to a Ming dynasty scroll, explore the central role that falcons and hawks play across cultures and millennia

The renowned Tlingit American artist, Preston Singletary created more than 60 glassworks to illustrate the traditional story of the raven, above: White Raven (Dleit Yéil), 2018, and pairing them in an immersive experience with music and projections.

Artist Preston Singletary Sheds New Light on the Tlingit Raven Tale

Stunning glassworks and custom soundscapes create an immersive reimagining of an ancient oral tradition

Photographer Jeff Schultz and painter Jon Van Zyle have co-created a series of artworks capturing Alaska and the sled dog community.

For 50 Years, Dogsled Teams Have Been Testing Their Mettle at the Iditarod

Three men who have lived and breathed the Alaskan race for much of its history recall how much has changed—and what has stayed the same

With the world on the brink of destruction, three of the earliest comic book superheroes (above: an array of 1940s covers from the Smithsonian collections) joined in the war effort, hawking bonds, boosting morale and entertaining troops.

Before the Riddler, Batman's Archenemy Was Hitler

A Smithsonian collection of vintage Golden Age comic books tells a story of WWII propaganda, patriotism and support of the war effort

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