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Smithsonian's Archives of American Art Presents "Little Pictures Big Lives" Exhibition
Jasper Johns in his studio, 1963. Photograph by Ellen H. Johnson. Ellen Hulda Johnson papers, 1939-1980. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
WASHINGTON, D.C.- A special view into the intimate lives of “larger than life” people is given in the exhibition “Little Pictures Big Lives: Snapshots from the Archives of American Art.” This exhibit will be on display from July 1 to Oct. 3 in the Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery at the Smithsonian’s Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture.

Snapshots—thousands of them—are tucked away among the letters, documents and diaries of artists in the Archives of American Art. Most of these images date from the golden age of snapshot photography—the 1920s through the 1960s—when cameras first became widely owned and were used to document all kinds of occasions, both public and private. In today’s digital age of point-and-shoot, instant playback and Photoshop, snapshots evoke an earlier era of photography, when there was a charm in capturing, saving and sharing even the simplest of scenes. Capturing the authentic and the incidental, snapshots provide an intimate look into artists’ lives—who they knew, who they loved, where they worked, where they went and, perhaps most important, the little moments that made their lives rich and full.

This exhibition was guest curated by Merry Foresta.The Archives of American Art is the world’s pre-eminent resource dedicated to collecting and preserving the papers and primary records of the visual arts in America.






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