Thursday, May 8, 2014

American Art Museum and The National Portrait Gallery

Our first day in DC began with breakfast at the Willard Hotel, then a walk around the White House.

Then we headed over to our first Smithsonian Museum, the American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery.  I fell in love with this museum, it has such a wide range of different art styles, periods and special exhibits.  We spent the rest of the day exploring the different galleries and discovering new favorite artists.

"Give Me Park Avenue" 
Georgia O'Keeffe

I was surprised to find that this painting was done by O'Keeffe. While it does have certain characteristics of her style, it is just so different then her usual flowers and haunting desert scenes.  I thought it was a very interesting and lovely depiction of Manhattan.

"Hibiscus with Plumeria"
Georgia O'Keeffe
They, of course, had some of her more traditional work as well.  I love her flowers.

"The Throne of the Third Heaven of the 
Nations' Millennium General Assembly"
James Hampton

This work of art is astounding to see in person.  It is made up of tin foil and other found objects Hampton found on the streets and in second hand stores.  It took the artist 14 years to complete, he would work on it at night after he got home from work.

Mike Wilkins
This was one of my favorite things we saw.  I just thought it was so well thought out and put together.  All fifty states are represented and are in alphabetical order, all while spelling out the preamble to the constitution.  Genius.

We decided to have lunch in the atrium before moving on to the upper galleries.  The atrium is gorgeous, I would have stayed in there all day.

Ginger cherry mini bundt

"Sweet Dreams, Baby!"
Roy Lichtenstein 

I don't think I had ever seen a Lichtenstein in person.  But now I have, bucket list check!

"Aurora Borealis"
Frederic Edwin Church

"We Both Must Fade (Mrs. Fithian)
Lilly Martin Spencer

This painting is all about the passage of time and how beauty fades.  The rose with falling pedals and the slowly dimming lamps are symbols of the transience of youth and beauty.  I could not get over how delicate and intricate the details of this painting were, I thought it was absolutely breathtaking.

"Spanish Dancer"
John Singer Sargent

"Woman With Red Hair"
Albert Herter

This and the next few paintings were my favorite in the entire museum, Albert Herter, Robert Reid, and especially Childe Hassam are now some of my most favorite painters.  Their style is exquisite, their color palates are gorgeous and unique, their subject matters are elegant, I love the hint of Ortientalism in the japanese screens and how their paintings are reminiscent of the art nouveau style.  I could go on and on about the beauty of these pieces, I am obsessed with them.

"The Mirror"
Robert Reid

"Tanagra (The Builders, New York)"
Childe Hassam

"The White Ballet"
Everett Shinn

"Peacocks and Peonies I & II"
John La Farge

"Electronic Superhighway"
Nam June Paik

"When Nam June Paik came to the United States in 1964, the interstate highway system was only nine years old, and superhighways offered everyone the freedom to "see the U.S.A. in your Chevrolet." Walking along the entire length of this installation suggests the enormous scale of the nation that confronted the young Korean artist when he arrived. Neon outlines the monitors, recalling the multicolored maps and glowing enticements of motels and restaurants that beckoned Americans to the open road. The different colors remind us that individual states still have distinct identities and cultures, even in today's information age.
Paik augmented the flashing images "seen as though from a passing car" with audio clips from The Wizard of OzOklahoma, and other screen gems, suggesting that our picture of America has always been influenced by film and television. Today, the Internet and twenty-four-hour broadcasting tend to homogenize the customs and accents of what was once a more diverse nation. Paik was the first to use the phrase "electronic superhighway," and this installation proposes that electronic media provide us with what we used to leave home to discover. ButElectronic Superhighway is real. It is an enormous physical object that occupies a middle ground between the virtual reality of the media and the sprawling country beyond our doors."

"Morgan Freeman"
Ross R. Rossin
Oil on Canvas

There was a special exhibit on the evolution of dance that was fascinating.

Monuments Men

There was another special exhibit all about the Monuments Men!  I had just finished reading the book about their story for my book club and I also had just seen the movie!  It was fascinating to see photographs of these amazing and brave men and women.

A Letter from George Stout to his wife

That night, after a long day at the museum, we headed to Zaytinya for dinner. This is a Greek/ Mediterranean restaurant that serves tapas.  It was incredible!  I would highly recommend this place to anyone visiting the DC area

I got the chocolate rose for dessert, it is a warm, moist chocolate cake served with fresh raspberries, rose flavored ice cream, and freshly whipped cream.  It.  Was.  Delicious!


  1. Caught the diverse elements of this fascinating museum. It was amazing to see things we had studied in so many new and interesting things we had never even thought of...such creativity. I'm glad you suggested it to us!

  2. You caught the amazing elements of this diverse museum so well. It was wonderful to see the American Impressionists whom I have always loved, but never seen so many of their works in one place. But there were so many interesting and unusual things we had never seen or even thought of...such creativity.