For America: Paintings from the National Academy of Design

On view at various venues across the country from February, 2019 through January, 2022.

Founded in 1825 by the artist Samuel F. B. Morse and a group of forward-thinking individuals, the National Academy of Design has a simple yet powerful mission: to provide means for the training of artists and the promotion and exhibition of their art. Since its founding, the Academy has upheld a rule from its first constitution: any elected National Academician (NA) must donate one of their artworks to the Academy’s collection. In 1839, the Academy decided that any individual nominated to the preceding rank of Associate National Academician (ANA) must also present a portrait of themselves for the collection, whether painted by their own hand or that of a fellow artist. Such gifts of “diploma works” and “diploma portraits” are the defining feature of the Academy’s collection and the focus of this exhibition.

Over the decades, these submissions have grown into a distinctive collection of American art that today includes nearly every major American artist. For America: Paintings from the National Academy of Design is the first exhibition to highlight this pivotal aspect of the collection—the joint presentation of an artist’s portrait with his or her diploma work. Featuring 100 paintings, For America presents not only a visual document of the Academy’s membership but a unique history of American painting from 1809 to the present as told by its makers. 

For America: Paintings from the National Academy of Design is organized by the National Academy of Design in collaboration with the American Federation of Arts. The exhibition is curated by Diana Thompson, Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs, National Academy of Design; and Jeremiah William McCarthy, Associate Curator, American Federation of Arts.



Dayton Art Institute, Ohio
February 20 – June 2, 2019
New Britain Museum of American Art, CT
October 16, 2019 – January 26, 2020
The Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach, FL
February 15 – April 26, 2020
Dixon Gallery & Gardens, Memphis, TN
July 19 – September 27, 2020
New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe
October 22, 2020 – January 17, 2021
Figge Art Museum, Davenport, IA
February 20 – May 9, 2021
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, CA
June 6 – September 12, 2021
Additional Venue TBA
October 14, 2021 – January 9, 2022


For America: Paintings from the National Academy of Design
Edited by Jeremiah William McCarthy and Diana Thompson

This exhibition will be accompanied by a richly illustrated scholarly catalogue, which will provide an unprecedented glimpse into the past two centuries of American art, tracing artistic tradition and innovation at the National Academy of Design from its 19th-century founding to the present. By presenting artists’ portraits in tandem with their self-selected representative works, this book offers a unique opportunity to explore how American artists have viewed both themselves and the worlds they depicted. The diverse selection of artists whose work is showcased includes Frederic Edwin Church, Eastman Johnson, Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, Thomas Eakins, Cecilia Beaux, Isabel Bishop, Andrew Wyeth, Charles White, Wayne Thiebaud, Louisa Matthíasdóttir, David Diao, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, and Peter Saul.

Essays by a stellar roster of distinguished historians and art historians, curators, artists, and architects delve into single artworks or pairs of paintings, while others explore themes such as the representation of landscapes and the figurative tradition in American art. Additionally, 18 living Academicians—including Catherine Opie and Fred Wilson—contribute personal responses to individual artworks. Contributors include Patricia Hills, Professor Emerita of American Art & African American Art, Boston University; Alexander Nemerov, Carl and Marilynn Thoma Provostial Professor in the Arts and Humanities, Stanford University; Susan Rather, Professor of Art History, University of Texas, Austin; and Akela Reason, Associate Professor of History, University of Georgia.

To purchase the catalogue, please visit American Federation of Arts.


Support for the national tour of the exhibition is provided by the JFM Foundation, Monique Schoen Warshaw, and Steph and Jody La Nasa.

Fischl + Saul + Schutz + Heffernan: Audio Now Available

Painters on Painting, presented by the National Academy of Design on September 25, 2018, was an opportunity to hear from game-changing artists Eric Fischl, NA; Peter Saul, NA; and Dana Schutz, NA about how their engaged methodology for viewing and interpreting extends to other artists’ work. Julie Heffernan, NA, moderated the conversation.

Read the full description in our Events Calendar.

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National Academy Inducts Largest Class in 25 Years, Fifth Largest Class in History

For Immediate Release

November 13th, 2018


NEW YORK, NY—The National Academy of Design (NAD) proudly announces its newest class of National Academicians (NAs), the fifth largest in the organization’s nearly 200-year-old history. 

Elected by current NAs in recognition of their exceptional contributions to American art and architecture, the Class of 2018 represents a commitment to preserving the cultural heritage of the United States and pushing creative boundaries.

Back row, left to right: James Timberlake, Stephen Kieran, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Margrit Lewczuk, Cora Cohen, Merrill Elam, Hermine Ford, Jane South, Patricia Cronin, Judy Glantzman, Fred Tomaselli, Jennifer Guthrie, Martha Diamond, Sarah Walker, Marlon Blackwell, Bruce Fowle (ANA 1991, NA 1994, PNAD 2011 - Present), and Don Porcaro    Front row, left to right: Kay WalkingStick, Jimmy Wright, Lisa Hoke, Peter Williams, Joyce J. Scott, James Wines, Petah Coyne, Judith Linhares, Deborah Luster, and Deborah Kass    Not pictured: Shimon Attie, Mel Chin, Dawn Clements, Angela Dufresne, Kathryn Gustafson, Byron Kim, Fumihiko Maki, Vik Muniz, and Shannon Nichol, and Hank Willis Thomas

Back row, left to right: James Timberlake, Stephen Kieran, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Margrit Lewczuk, Cora Cohen, Merrill Elam, Hermine Ford, Jane South, Patricia Cronin, Judy Glantzman, Fred Tomaselli, Jennifer Guthrie, Martha Diamond, Sarah Walker, Marlon Blackwell, Bruce Fowle (ANA 1991, NA 1994, PNAD 2011 - Present), and Don Porcaro

Front row, left to right: Kay WalkingStick, Jimmy Wright, Lisa Hoke, Peter Williams, Joyce J. Scott, James Wines, Petah Coyne, Judith Linhares, Deborah Luster, and Deborah Kass

Not pictured: Shimon Attie, Mel Chin, Dawn Clements, Angela Dufresne, Kathryn Gustafson, Byron Kim, Fumihiko Maki, Vik Muniz, and Shannon Nichol, and Hank Willis Thomas

Visual Art

Njideka Akunyili Crosby
Shimon Attie
Mel Chin
Dawn Clements
Cora Cohen
Petah Coyne
Patricia Cronin
Martha Diamond
Angela Dufresne
Hermine Ford
Judy Glantzman
Lisa Hoke
Deborah Kass
Byron Kim
Margrit Lewczuk
Judith Linhares
Deborah Luster
Vik Muniz
Don Porcaro
Joyce J. Scott
Jane South
Hank Willis Thomas
Fred Tomaselli
Sarah Walker
Kay WalkingStick
Peter Williams
Jimmy Wright


Marlon Blackwell (Marlon Blackwell Architects)
Merrill Elam (Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects)
Kathryn Gustafson, Jennifer Guthrie, + Shannon Nichol (GGN)
Stephen Kieran + James Timberlake (KieranTimberlake)
Fumihiko Maki (Maki and Associates)
James Wines (SITE)

The NA Class of 2018 joins a roster of over 400 living members, with more than 2,300 artists and architects elected since our founding in 1825. NAs include leaders in their respective fields today, such as David Adjaye, Marina Abramović, Chuck Close, Frank Gehry, Ann Hamilton, Joel Shapiro, Cindy Sherman, Shahzia Sikander, Robert A. M. Stern, Carrie Mae Weems, Nick Cave, Andres Serrano, and Annabelle Selldorf; seminal figures like Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, and Louise Bourgeois; and early pioneers such as Thomas Cole, Ithiel Town, Frederic Church, Winslow Homer, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Cecilia Beaux, Thomas Eakins, and John Singer Sargent. 

Election as an NA is the culmination of a thorough, substantive vetting process. Candidates are nominated confidentially by a current NA who presents an in-depth proposal that is supported by two other NAs. After weeks of study, deliberation, and discussion, votes are cast at the institution’s Annual Meeting, held each spring. Only NAs may participate in the process, and a minimum of 60% of the votes cast must be in favor of the candidates in order for them to be elected, making the election a unique, peer-driven honor that cannot be applied for or solicited. 

As members, National Academicians serve as ambassadors for the arts in America. They show work in NAD exhibitions, foster the next generation through our educational programs, and, in keeping with an almost 200-year-old tradition, contribute a work to our collection. The NAD permanent collection of nearly 8,000 works—unlike any other in the United States, shaped by the National Academician members themselves—represents one of the nation’s most significant holdings of American art and architecture.


The National Academy of Design has a simple yet powerful mission, “to promote American art and architecture through exhibition and instruction.” Founded in 1825 by a group of artists that included Thomas Cole, Samuel F. B. Morse, and Asher B. Durand, the NAD is an honor society of America’s top artists and architects – the National Academicians – as well as a presenter of arts and an agent of arts education. Over the decades, the NAD has enriched and educated countless generations of artists and architects, while preserving and sharing the work of the National Academicians with the public. 


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Auzelle Epeneter


NAD NOW, A Dynamic Online Journal Featuring America's Leading Artists and Architects, Launched Today

For Immediate Release

October 30th, 2018


James Siena,  Spoolstone , 2017, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48 in., photograph by Mark Waldhauser and Kerry Ryan McFate, courtesy Pace Gallery

James Siena, Spoolstone, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48 in., photograph by Mark Waldhauser and Kerry Ryan McFate, courtesy Pace Gallery

New York, NY – The National Academy of Design (NAD) is proud to announce the launch of our new online journal, NAD NOW ( A free and globally accessible platform for American art and architecture, NAD NOW is most importantly a showcase and celebration of our National Academician members (NAs), the remarkable group of artists and architects who make up the NAD’s exclusive honor society.

“The National Academicians are an incredible wealth of inspiration, and we are thrilled to showcase their creativity, ideas, and accomplishments,” noted

Auzelle Epeneter, Director of NA Communications and NAD NOW’s editor-in-chief. “Today’s launch is just the start of an ongoing, many-layered conversation about the impact of the NAs’ work on our culture.”

NAD NOW’s content is exclusively by and about the NA members, past and present. It reflects their diverse interests and is positioned to make a significant contribution to contemporary dialogue about art and architecture.

Highlights of NAD NOW’s first release include:

  • An intimate conversation between architect Wendy Evans Joseph (NA 2012) and artist Alan Michelson about Studio Joseph’s exhibition design of Americans, a permanent installation at the National Museum of the American Indian.

  • Nick Cave (NA 2015) offers a behind-the-scenes look at The Let Go, his immersive installation at Park Avenue Armory in a review penned by Niama Safia Sandy.

  • James Siena (NA 2011) shares a new painting for “Centerfold,” a column that showcases recent works by NAs.

  • Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs Diana Thompson reveals a newly restored work by Charles White (ANA 1971; NA 1974), Matriarch. The painting pictures White’s great aunt, a former slave, and was a remarkable choice for the artist to give to the NAD as his diploma portrait — a membership requirement dating back to 1839.

  • And Marilyn Minter (NA 2017) shares her recent creative inspirations.

The launch is just the beginning. Stay tuned for more stories and the expansion of our columns in the weeks and months to come.


The National Academy of Design has a simple yet powerful mission, “to promote American art and architecture through exhibition and instruction.” Founded in 1825 by a group of artists that included Thomas Cole, Samuel F. B. Morse, and Asher B. Durand, the NAD is an honor society of America’s top artists and architects – the National Academicians – as well as a presenter of arts and an agent of arts education. Over the decades, the NAD has enriched and educated countless generations of artists and architects, while preserving and sharing the work of the National Academicians with the public.


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New York, NY 10128

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“Social Justice and Unity” Mural, Featuring Master Artist Dread Scott, NA, and Students, Unveiled and Dedicated at East Flatbush Brooklyn Middle School

For Immediate Release

August 15, 2018



New York, NY – The National Academy of Design celebrated the unveiling and dedication of the organization’s 2018 summer mural project at the East Flatbush Community Research School IS K581 in Brooklyn on Friday, August 10. Master artist Dread Scott, NA mentored and provided professional development to the participating NYC students, all of whom are aspiring artists. The students got to conceptualize, design, and paint the public artwork with the themes of “social justice and unity.”

For the kids, this was their first professional artistic undertaking and they learned what it was like to be a professional artist. About the artistic process, student participant Jemila shared, “Dread was a creative force to help push our barriers.” Yana, the hands-on teaching artist who served as the Lead Artist on the project, reflected on the idea of public art relating to the community, “How do we talk about social justice in a way that is accessible to everyone?”

Since 1940, the National Academy has had a history of commissioning murals. In 2018, the National Academy renewed its mural projects program with a focus on commissioning public art in economically-disadvantaged neighborhoods where local students are engaged to paint the designs under the mentorship of one of the Academy’s National Academicians. The National Academy’s mural projects program is underwritten by an endowment formed through a bequest of Gertrude Abbey that was established through a deed of trust in 1931.

Moving forward, the National Academy plans to sponsor mural projects every year in areas across the United States and in partnership with different non-profit organizations. For 2019, a mural project in Los Angeles focused on immigration is being planned. The National Academy’s 2018 mural project was developed in partnership with Groundswell, a NYC-based organization that brings together youth, artists, and community organizations to use art as a tool for social change.


Founded in 1825 by a group of artists that included Thomas Cole, Samuel F. B. Morse, Asher B. Durand, and others, the National Academy of Design is an arts organization with a simple yet powerful mission “to promote American art and architecture through exhibition and instruction.” Consisting of three components, the National Academy is an honor society of America’s top artists and architects, as well as a presenter of arts, and an agent of arts education. Over the decades, the Academy has enriched and educated countless generations of artists and architects, while preserving and sharing their work with the public.


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New Online Database Showcases Collection and Membership - Free and Open to The Public


October 3, 2018

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Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874-1939),  Hollyhocks , by 1911  Oil on canvas, 25 ½ × 32 in.  NA diploma presentation, November 2, 1914

Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874-1939), Hollyhocks, by 1911

Oil on canvas, 25 ½ × 32 in.

NA diploma presentation, November 2, 1914

New York, NY - The National Academy of Design (NAD) is thrilled to announce the launch of a dynamic and unique online resource dedicated to the NAD’s preeminent permanent collection of American art. This significant new educational resource can be found at and under the Collection menu option on the NAD’s website – It is interactive, free, globally accessible and features the NAD’s collection dating back to the organization’s founding in 1825, while highlighting the extraordinarily talented group of artists and architects who make up the NAD’s exclusive National Academician honor society.

The NA Database project is part of a multi-year initiative that is scheduled for continued development through 2022. The end result will be a comprehensive online resource featuring information about the NAD’s entire membership, permanent collection, and distinctive history, which have intersected with and catalyzed the development of American art and architecture from the 19th through the 21st centuries.

The launch of the NA Database showcases 100 American artists and architects ranging from our founder, Samuel F. B. Morse, to living members like Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. Over the next few years, database entries will expand significantly to include the entirety of the NAD permanent collection and membership, which represents more than 2,300 artists and architects, spans 200 years of history and includes nearly 8,000 works of art, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, watercolors, prints, photographs, videos, mixed-media works, and architectural drawings, renderings, and models.

“Today, when so much of visual culture is explored through digital platforms, we felt it was imperative to open the National Academy of Design’s online doors to the public to share and enlighten all audiences about the importance and richness of the history of American art and the NAD’s place within it,” explains Diana Thompson, who spearheads the NA Database project and serves as Director of Collections and Curatorial Affairs. “Now is the prime opportunity to develop ways to share our history and collection with the world. Indeed no history of American art can be told without invoking our storied institution, and it is our goal to provide the public with more information and greater access to this cultural treasure. We are the country’s oldest honorary artist society and our story belongs to all of us.”

The NA Database project involves our partnership with Google Cultural Institute to digitize the collection, as well as the NAD’s new research on the permanent collection that includes scholarly catalogue entries, updated biographies, video documentation, materials culled from the Academy’s unique in-house object files, as well as correlating materials from the NAD Historic Archives housed at the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art. Extensive research was conducted to publish the 2004 permanent collection catalogue entitled Paintings and Sculpture in the Collection of The National Academy of Design, Volume I, 1826- 1925 (David Dearinger, General Editor). The NAD is thrilled to highlight and share the work done for this scholarly endeavor with a larger audience by incorporating it into the online database.


Founded in 1825 by a group of artists that included Thomas Cole, Samuel F. B. Morse, Asher B. Durand, and others, the National Academy of Design is an arts organization with a simple yet powerful mission “to promote American art and architecture through exhibition and instruction.” Consisting of three components, the National Academy is an honor society of America’s top artists and architects, as well as a presenter of arts, and an agent of arts education. Over the decades, the Academy has enriched and educated countless generations of artists and architects, while preserving and sharing their work with the public.


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“Wayne Thiebaud, Draftsman”

"Wayne Thiebaud, Draftsman”

May 18 through September 23, 2018 – The Morgan Library & Museum

“Really, Wayne Thiebaud’s drawing?” was the question a lot of people asked to the curator Isabelle Dervaux when she decided on the focus of the Morgan Library & Museum’s new exhibition. In fact, the Morgan is the first institution to explore the artist’s lifelong engagement with sketches. Well known for his lifelike paintings of luscious pies, glossy candied apples and colorful ice cream cones, Wayne Thiebaud also spent his whole career ­–over 70 years of work– as a draftsman. This exhibition presents in a chronological order a relevant panel of his work, half of which came from his studio in Sacramento.

The show opens with a series of works from the 1960s. Jelly apples, candy sticks and so on are declined in different techniques and materials, proving the artist’s early interest in investigating the properties of a variety of mediums. He tries to avoid the sentimentally of classic American paintings and focus on surface texture more than the formal elements of design and composition.

In Nine Jelly Apples, Thiebaud plays with a range of red, pink and purple watercolors and graphite, to give to the surface of the fruit a luminous aspect. In the nearby version, Candied Apples, he works on the intensity of the black ink, opposed to the untouched white of the paper, to convey the shine of those fleshy apples. The accuracy of the pencil in the third interpretation of this subject, Three Jelly Apples, focuses on the material aspect of the hardened sugar surface, and reveals the technical virtuosity of the sketcher.

According to Isabelle Dervaux, Thiebaud likes the idea of series, of rows. These drawings, all from 1964, testify that since the beginning of his career, his approach has always been much more controlled than abstract.

Wayne Thiebaud.jpg

Wayne Thiebaud studied at Frank Wiggins Trade School, in Los Angeles, where he learned advertising, illustration and design: he originally wanted to be a cartoonist. Finally stimulated by his interest in Art History, he decided to become a painter, but this untraditional training would have a major influence in his later work and on his way to comprehend subjects. Actually, the artist’s figurative food theme isn’t innocuous: it echoes his desire to seduce the viewer as well as the publicist wants to seduce the costumer.

“Surprisingly, I didn’t think of pies at first.” As many young artists, Thiebaud went to New York in the 1950s. There he met people from the contemporary art scene such as Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning. But in the words of Scott Shields, senior curator at the Crocker Museum: “New York’s Abstract Expressionism didn’t work as well for the West Coast people—that brooding angst didn’t fit,” and Thiebaud struggled to find a place.  After a challenge by de Kooning to “decide what you like, what you want to do,” he went back to very basics: shapes and lines, recreating typical American objects. At the opening-night conversation with the curator Isabelle Dervaux, the artist said that his depictions of slices of pie on plates derived from a simple formalist desire to put triangles on ovals. It felt “interesting and comfortable” to him, so he continued.

Using his experience as a light technician -he worked at Universal Studios in his early career- he started to focus on the luminosity in his drawings, exploiting the radiance coming from the objects themselves. Hence, he created a new kind of imagery –with light subjects and bold shadows– which made him famous overnight after the Allan Stone Gallery in New York exhibited his works in 1962.

After reading « Interaction of Color » by Josef Albers, published in 1963, Wayne Thiebaud starts to work on colors. Inspired by this ouvrage, he combined conventional shading with unexpected color juxtapositions, opposing bright and colorful objects before pale backgrounds. A contrario of the Pop Art movement, which was developing at the same time, Thiebaud’s art was warmer and melancholic, in part due to the fact that he drew from memory, immersing himself into a nostalgic recollection of bakeries and diners from his youth. When Warhol was cool and ironic with his soup cans, Thiebaud was nostalgic and gentle with his lemon meringue and pumpkin pies.


Wayne Thiebaud never stopped drawing sketches, whether it was as a daily exercise or to jot down ideas for his paintings. This exhibition honors this substantial part of his work by unveiling an entire wall of his sketches that, for the most part, have never been shown before. The sheets presented are compositions, made up of different illustrations connected more or less consciously by the artist. For instance, in a pen, ink, and watercolor drawing from 1986, he matches up two portraits of art critic Clement Greenberg –we know from Thiebaud’s notes at the bottom of the sheet that he was giving a lecture on the artist Hans Hofmann at Berkeley – with three jelly apples in the critic’s favorite color.

From the 1970s, Thiebaud’s work showed a stronger engagement with the art of the past and the old masters that he admires. Accordingly, he changed his way of working to a more academic practice, and started dedicating time every week to work from the model. An anecdote related by Isabelle Dervaux describes Thiebaud, with the best of intentions, imitating even the signatures and dates of certain canons.

The artist said he draws “to find something, to make notations or just to experiment.” These sketches actually divulge crucial elements on which he works: proportions, light effects, and vantage points. And if those drawings are more traditional than the comics’ style he first developed, the subjects are still very modern.

For Thiebaud, another way to depicts American culture was to work on cities, streets, and the drama which exudes from them. “These drawings seemed to offer more the kind of visual and physical feeling that was closer to the idea of San Francisco” he said. The last part of the Morgan’s show presents a selection of these works from the 1980s.

With wildly shifting perspectives and geometric patterns created by curves and edges of the urban landscapes, Thiebaud oscillates between copy and composition. In his 1983 drawings of San Francisco, he plays with the intensity of darkness and its fateful effects on the composition. Here again, the materials used -ink and charcoal- refer to the influence of the artist’s first interest in lights and shadows, recalling his mastery of the film noir.

“My own sense of being American is a very important part of what I feel and do,” he said. While Pop Art was more interested in advertising, Thiebaud was paradoxically more traditional and focused on capturing a uniquely American sensibility. We can actually feel that this Americanness infuses his entire work, starting from the rows of pies, the gumball machines, to the urban landscapes.

By choosing to focus on the artist’s drawings, this exhibition offers a glimpse of the evolution of the artist works, which have an atmosphere all of their own: sweet, heartening and beautiful. During a recent conference at the Morgan Museum at which I assisted, Isabelle Dervaux lauded the artist’s continuity. “And you know what?” she asks at the end, “He still made pastel and pies”.

“Joan Jonas, NA: Ice Drawing” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

“Joan Jonas: Ice Drawing” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
September 24, 2017 – September 3, 2018

By: Léa MIRANDA, Intern, National Academy of Design, New York

Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 2.44.17 PM.png

"I have always thought of myself as an electronic sorceress" Joan Jonas said once. After 50 years of career, the artist has bewitched both museums and mainstream audiences, by mastering the fusion and the blend of different mediums and techniques. She just received the 2018 Kyoto Prize in the fields of Art and Psychology, Advanced Technology and Basic Sciences, for her “immeasurable impact” in pioneering the integration of Performance Art and New Media.

Joan Jonas is a native of New York City, born in 1936. She holds a bachelor degree in Art History from Mount Holyoke College and a M.F.A. in Sculpture from Columbia University. Between 1958 and 1961, she joined the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. There, she immersed herself in drawing, both as a method of observation and investigation of the different subjects.

Back in New York's downtown art scene of the mid-1960s, Jonas began her career as a sculptor, but soon decided to expand her area of work. Mixing live performance, drawing, installation, video, and music, she often created a dialogue between rhythms of rituals, myths, objects, gestures, and texts from all around the world.

In 2015, she represented the United States of America in the Venice Biennale with an installation entitled “They Come to Us Without a Word” -a video installation involving drawings and sculptural elements- which was praised as “a triumph” by Roberta Smith, art critic and writer for The New York Times. Her recent works shift to focus on our complex relationship with the earth and the natural world.

In this perspective, Jonas gave her interpretation of the novel “Under the Glacier” (1968) by Icelandic author Halldór Laxness by creating a multi-channel installation “Reanimation” (2013). Accompanied by her musical collaborator, the pianist Jason Moran, this installation, originally performed in Boston at the MFA in 2014, traveled to various locations: Kassel, New York, Milan, and Paris. “One of the first thoughts that comes to mind is that glaciers are melting… ‘Reanimation’ involves the fragility of life in a rapidly changing situation,” says Jonas.

The mixed-media installation “Ice Drawing” (2012) is one of the artworks which compose this narrative masterpiece. A beamer projects a video against a wall of the darkened Krupp Gallery of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Between the projector and the image, a crystal sculpture has been mounted to refract the light and create an icy atmosphere. In a close-up video, the artist’s hands pour a glass of black ink on a light surface, before adding ice cubes. She mixes one with the other and quickly, the entire work plan is covered by a shiny and gooey ink stain. Finally, textures and elements coalesce into a fragile and ephemeral abstract drawing.

“Once a performance has taken place, video images, drawings, props, costumes and sets from it are transformed into an installation. The reverse can also happen: An installation can become a performance” said Farah Nayeri in The New York Times. As a poetic response to climate change, the artist uses ancient and contemporary technologies to show our tangibility and our ineptitude in the natural world.

Her ambiguous and mesmerizing works are on view this summer at the MFA Boston and in a retrospective at the Tate in London.

Museum Reviews by Nathale Nicoletti, NAD Summer 2018 Intern

Museum of Arts and Design – New York, NY  – Edward Durell 1964 /Brad Cloepfil (Allied Works Architecture) 2008

The first design of this building was made by Edward Durell Stone in 1964. The building had a closed façade made of concrete, using ornaments made by marble panels where they were perforated all over the edges of the structure, making more than a thousand little circular windows.

The only visible aperture was on the last two floors, where it was a restaurant and a lounge. It had huge arcs, which were made for better lighting and to have a view of Central Park.

Hartford, the owner of the building, had the intention to establish a Gallery of Modern Art with his own personal collection from the 19th and 20th centuries. Hartford was against modernist ideals. Stone disliked the glass and metal buildings that were prevailing.  Both valued democratic values.

The art exhibitions were situated where there were no windows or aperture. The reason was for better maintenance and views of the exhibitions, creating spaces that looked like an upscale residence. In the lobby were set the famous “lollipops” columns in a Venetian Gothic style with Swedish red rose granite ovals.

After five years, the building was sold. In 2005 they started reconstructing, and the architect that carried out this project was National Academician Brad Cloepfil from Allied Works Architecture firm. Cloepfil gave the building a new identity. He preserved Stone’s structure and from the inside one can still see the “lollipops” columns.

The new design is made from fritted glass and glazed terra-cotta tile. The terra-cotta is finished with a light iridescent glaze, which changes tones of color depending on the hour of the day or the perspective one looks from. There are series of lines of glass made by transparent and fritted glass that are around 80cm wide, which allow filtering light into the gallery.  This now allows for views of the city, which was not possible with the past design.

The façade has a geometric pattern, making it different from the buildings around it. The new design has a lighter look. One can understand from the outside how every floor works, where the restaurant, the art studios, and the galleries are.

It is very transparent ­-- inside the galleries the lines of glass that are on the outside continue on the inside, cutting the floors. This allows one to follow the exhibitions in the right direction, having a sense of space. Therefore, the visitor is able to see the exhibits clearly.

The second from the last floor is the restaurant, where there is a big glass window, with a panorama view of the park and sunlight, also for the art studios. The ground floor where the “lollipops” are is entirely made of glass, which invites people to come to the museum – this floor talks with its surroundings.

The MET Breuer, New York, NY - Marcel Breuer

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney was a sculptor and art collector. She created the Whitney Studio Club, now home to the MET Breuer (formerly The Whitney Museum of American Art).

The Architect for this project was Marcel Breuer. He studied at Bauhaus. Breuer is famous for his international/universal style. Bauhaus was a school, from 1919 to 1933, that brought all the subjects of the arts together, such as music, crafts, and fine arts. Bauhaus is considered a style of the modern era.

Breuer was ahead of his time, he was innovative and a futurist. We can see that in his famous Wassily Chair, that even in the contemporary era still looks futurist.

The exterior walls are made of granite, which transmit a heavy look. The building looks as if there is no sunlight, transmitting a feeling of closure, even though one can see the upside-down windows, with their pushy and gauche format with ascending edges.

There are two small windows on each floor. On the third floor, the window is a bigger size that completes the front façade, almost looking like a cyclops’s eye, with a big view of the city.

The design of the building brings to mind the format of an upside-down staircase and ziggurat pyramid. Each floor is a different size but has the same form -- the first floor is smaller than the second, the same also for the second to the third.

The brutalist design is inspiring in its grandiosity, with a strong and innovative look. In the past when people had a more somber and brutal feeling, it was less acceptable because of its distinctly modern style.

Inside the building all these feelings change. The galleries have open spaces with concrete grid ceilings. All the ornaments that it did not have on the exterior it has on the interior -- the dimmed lights, the textures of the walls and the exhibition space itself. The windows become a part of the exhibition, with the view acting as if it were itself a painting.

The New Museum | John Akomfrah – Signs of empire

Usually, I am not the type of person who likes to stay and watch the films in exhibitions. But this one is impossible to not make you want to watch.

When you come to the second floor of the New Museum, you enter in a medium-sized square-shaped room. The room is completely dark, and the walls are even painted black. I felt afraid to walk in there, but that made me even more curious to know what was happening in that room.

You can see a huge screen showing pictures and some quotes. The background song is almost hypnotic, drawing you to stay and watch. This first room focuses on a historical context, from the persistent legacy of colonialism and historical memory.

The quotes are ironic, contradicting with the pictures. Some of the quotes were, “The fields of investment,” “Figuration Nation,” “Histories of Exclusion,” along with many others.

Akomfrah shows the power of the colonizers over the native people and how they were affected -- the competition over who has more power and land, not caring about the people who actually lived in that place, who were used as slaves and products.

The centerpiece of this exhibition is in the second room, containing a three-screen video of Vertigo Sea (2015).

There are videos of nature and how we are treating it, by destroying and contaminating our house (world). It has the same logic, one of the screens shows our reality, another one how we are treating the world/sea/people and another one how beautiful it could be if we do not damage it.

Nature will charge for all the damage we are causing, just wanting the power and the wealth. He shows more of the sea -- everything started at the water, sharks are all older than the trees. By affecting our ecosystem, especially the seas, we are destroying ourselves.

Such an irony -- showing the beauty of nature and what we do to it.

There is some strong content when he shows videos of people hunting whales, and then killing them; testing nuclear bombs in the sea, something that we should not even have; using our natural resources for a bad purpose.

And that all started with the colonialism -power over power- who is the best one, for us everything is a competition.

The New Museum: New York, NY – SANAA (National Academicians)

The Museum’s name embodies its pioneering spirit, focusing on emerging artists and contemporary art.

The neighborhood where the museum is located (the Bowery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side) has the typical squared block buildings. The design of the building reflects on that, taking those block forms and making it contemporary, using glass and steel.

Stacking seven boxes vertically around its central core with varying proportions brings a new design that is similar but also different from its surroundings. By shifting the boxes, they avoided using the maximum square footage that is permitted, creating a dynamic form between the volumes. It seems the buildings in their surroundings are one on top of each other.

The project has a skeletal structure, like in Mies van der Rohe projects. Less is more. The building has its simplicity, clearness and transparent architecture style, distinguishing the opaque building in its surroundings.

The texture of the body is delicate and soft, made of aluminum. It brings to mind fish scales, giving movement to the design and its transparency.

With its column-free design, the building has a large open-plan space that allows for natural light and high ceilings. By concentrating on the function of the building instead of the form, they were able to make the form as the function.

The building consists of galleries, offices, event spaces, a café, a theater, an education center, and two mechanical floors.

Visitors are drawn into the museum, with a glass wall entrance that enables one to see the inside of the lobby, implying transparency. The street’s concrete floor continues on the inside, connecting the street life and museum.

The visitor can choose the way they want to see the galleries by using the stairs or the elevator. The third floor is accessed by two different exquisite thin stairways that are just 90cm wide.  In one of them, there is a single-pane window that brings in natural light.

The structural columns are visible on the less public floors. On the seventh floor, there is a multipurpose room, with glass for almost all of the walls, where one is able to access an outdoor terrace that has different panorama views of Manhattan.

Interview of Pat Lasch, NA in her studio at the National Academy of Design

 By: Léa MIRANDA, Intern, National Academy of Design, New York

On a Tuesday afternoon, the sculptor Pat Lasch welcomed me into her luminous and quiet studio, on the second floor of the National Academy of Design’s building in New York. She is currently working on new pieces, which will be exhibited at the Meredith Ward Fine Art Gallery from September 20 through November 13, 2018. “People describe me as a feminine feminist” she said while raising up one of her new sculptures: a washy pink cake with tints of nacreous green and white. Covered by intricate, hand-made, piped-paint lace –the artist’s signature–, roses, pearls, and other shiny and delicate elements, her cake sculptures are the consecration of hours of work and an impeccable discipline. I pointed out that her work was similar to a monk’s labor. She burst out laughing and invited me to have a seat.

Léa Miranda: How and to what extent did your relationship with your father -who was a German pastry chef- influence the way that you work?

Pat Lasch: My relationship with my father is important because I learned his trade, but I was more interested in time. For me, cakes mark time, they mark celebrations of our life: our birthdays, our weddings. I also made a series of black cakes because nobody makes us a cake when we die.

LM: Is that a way for you to expose ordinary and everyday life objects in museums?

PL: I like the focus, yes. They are ordinary objects, everyone experiences them, and they are an important part of our lives. I think it is a very feminist view point, because women are the ones who, most of the time, make the cakes for the family and organize the social events that go around. On the top of that, I just love doing these works! I was trained very young, at thirteen.

LM: You were trained at making cakes or making cakes as artworks?

PL: At making cakes! Nobody that I knew did cakes as artwork. Now people do because I started, in the late 1970s. I made real cakes from thirteen to nineteen, but I was also going to art school. There, I realized a lot of things. Let me give you a wonderful quote from Antonin Carême, a French pastry chef from the early nineteenth century: « there are five branches of fine arts: there is painting, there is sculpture, there is poetry, there is music and there is pastry making of which architecture is a sub branch ».

Images provided by the artist of the 5-foot-2-inch-tall cake sculpture she created in 1979 as part of MoMA’s 50th anniversary

Images provided by the artist of the 5-foot-2-inch-tall cake sculpture she created in 1979 as part of MoMA’s 50th anniversary

Christening and wedding dresses (2016) exhibited at the Palm Spring Museum in 2017 for the artist’s retrospective ‘Journey of the Heart’

Christening and wedding dresses (2016) exhibited at the Palm Spring Museum in 2017 for the artist’s retrospective ‘Journey of the Heart’

LM: One of the first things that you said to me when I arrived today was that you are a “feminine feminist.” What does it mean?

PL: I love to make beautiful things. I love looking at them, I love looking at things that delight my eyes. But sometimes they are hard… Look at my new black cake! It looks like it is toxic, venomous, but it is also very beautiful.

I notice that in life many things become very beautiful when they decay. Sometimes you see a tree that is diseased, and it’s so interesting. I remember the last day before my father died, I just want to paint his face. He became so exquisite! It was only in that last day -I didn’t notice it before- when the blood was withdrawing of his face, that he looked translucent. It was very magical, because he was beautiful and dying.

LM: But do you think only women can make these beautiful objects? Do you think art is gendered?

PL: Most of the time I cannot imagine a man making these.

LM: Even as your father was doing his pastries?

PL: My father taught me, but I took off on my own things and made wonderful cake sculptures, just like a pastry chef! I did think men were supposed to cook for me, but they didn’t! What a disappointment! She laughed.

LM: For you, what does feminism mean when it comes to art?

PL: Expressing your soul with the experience of the other ones. For me, it’s about expressing corrections, wishes of what I could have done in different ways. My work has a lot of emotions, and it’s calling out to the universe. You know, I really like pink. But I also made series of black cakes and I wrote letters to the Dead in 1998. Everyone experiences death, because everything dies.

LM: What kind of impact do you hope that your work has? To new generations? To women?

PL: I hope my work leaves people with a sense of joy, a sense of fleetingness of life. Both are beauty, and they are difficult.

Intern Insights: Summer at NAD

Young Art Enthusiasts

The National Academy of Design is pleased to give our summer interns the opportunity to see exhibitions of their choosing. Below you can learn about our interns and the art and ideas that inspire them. 

Alison (Ally) Koumantzelis Pappalardo

Alison (Ally) Koumantzelis Pappalardo

I grew up in Mendham, a small town in New Jersey. I am now a rising junior at the University of Miami, studying fine arts, public health, and medical anthropology. I hope to eventually pursue my passion for public health and anthropology by joining the Peace Corps. However, right now the focus of my studies is around the fine arts, specifically graphic design and art history. My interest in the art world is what drew me to the National Academy this summer. I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to learn the ins and outs of a non-profit within the art industry. I was also attracted to the National Academy because of the opportunity to research and learn about such a wide array of American artists, expanding my knowledge of art history. Along with being a great summer experience, this internship also gives me the chance to get an idea of what I truly want to do after college. 

The Susanna Coffey: Crimes of the Gods at Steven Harvey Fine Arts Projects exhibition seems to combine two very different sets of work, one being a selection of woodcuts on rice paper from her artist’s book, The Homeric Hymn to Demeter and the other being a selection of self-portraits. The woodcuts are primarily black with cut, white lines and shapes, revealing illustrations of the Greek narrative, The Homeric Hymn to Demeter. While these works were inspired by myths, Coffey’s set of self-portraits seem to tell a different story.

Coffey created her woodcuts back in the 1980’s but when looking at them next to her self-portraits, she realized that her work had come full circle, she had “a tale and its teller.” Coffey’s exhibition aims to tell a story that isn’t completely hers, she wants her art to speak for the mother’s defending their daughters, for the innocents and the skeptics, for those crying out against the crimes of gender. Her exhibition is rooted in the notion that her art is intertwined with the lessons within The Homeric Hymn to Demeter.

The woodcuts illustrate the stories told in The Homeric Hymn to Demeter, stories that capture the “criminal behavior of patriarchs” according to Coffey. The woodcuts are intriguing to me because they have just enough detail to understand what the overarching theme of the art is, but not enough detail to take away the ability to make an interpretation of your own. The woodcuts are meant to tell the story of these myths and I think Coffey takes it one step further by creating this mythical feel to the woodcuts, a sense you get without yet knowing the story they tell.

I think you can tell Coffey’s interest in myth through her self-portraits as well. Although the two sets of art look different at first, the self-portraits also have a mystical nature to them. The part of the painting of Coffey’s face stands out and I think you can feel the emotions shown on her face. At the same time, in most of the portraits, I think it also makes you feel like you are in a dream state, with the portrait fading into a background of large brushstrokes, an array of colors, often forming an unrecognizable shape around Coffey’s head.

I felt like I could stand there for hours looking at her portraits, trying to understand how intricate her face could be at times and how, at others, it could lack so much detail, but either way you could feel the emotion on her face. I also found myself fixated on how her face blended so perfectly with the abstract background. The colors she chooses, along with her unique brushstrokes, set her self-portraits apart from most others I’ve seen.

I also think her self-portraits are interesting because she makes no attempt to follow the guidelines of what is usually associated with portraits of women. She feels no need to flatter her face or make herself out to fit under society’s understanding of what is beautiful. This makes sense because Coffey was inspired by the #MeToo movement and intended to join the “chorus of young women and ancient Greek voices” protesting crimes of gender.

Understanding Coffey’s thought process behind setting up this exhibition is essential to understanding why she put these two seemingly different works of art together.  I think it’s amazing how she was able to bring these pieces together and combine her artistic thoughts with her thoughts about the world.

Léa Miranda

Léa Miranda

Léa Miranda is a French student living in New York for the summer. She has an International Law degree from La Sorbonne University in Paris, France, and has attended classes of History of Art at the School of the Louvre Museum. In her desire to combine her different skills, Léa is now studying Management of Cultural Heritage as part of her MA. In this context, she is carrying out a research project focused on the circulation of artworks between France and the United States of America during the Cold War under the supervision of Sophie Cras, Assistant Professor of Art History at La Sorbonne University. Last year, she interned at the MAC VAL, a Museum Specializing in French Contemporary Art in Paris. She is currently a summer intern at the National Academy of Design in New York and a research assistant for Maura Reilly, curator, writer, and Executive Director of the NAD.

Donna Dennis: Ship and Dock/Nights and Days or The Gazer
May 31 – June 30, 2018 | Lesley Heller, New York City

Donna Dennis is an American artist, best known for her complex sculptural installations with sounds. Including one of her new installations and related gouache paintings on paper, this exhibition at the Lesley Heller Gallery opens a door to an immersive and poetic world —an expanded experience that disrupts our ideas of space and time.

The exhibition starts with the artist’s gouache on paper works representing water landscapes and focusing on the variation of the light and the moment of the day it is referring to. By showing us the recurring elements that she uses (boat, ship and dock, starry sky), these paintings offer a foretaste of the artist’s universe. Using black, grey, smoky blue and tints of white, Donna Dennis depicts a dreamy and smooth world which led to her introducing the “Ship and Dock/Nights and Days or The Gazer” (2018) installation.

Entering in a dark room, you are invited to sit on a bench against a wall drilled by small holes which recreate a starlit sky. This pattern is also used for the gouache paintings on paper seen at the entrance of the exhibition, making a marriage between the three-dimensional installation work and the two-dimensional paper works. The black curtains obstruct the light and isolate you from the outside, making it necessary for you to confront this mixed media assemblage. A video loop alternates days and nights by a slow and almost imperceptible evolution of light, in an immersive landscape background. The soundtrack is composed of sounds of water, boats and unknown noises which seem to come from the structure, in front of the video. By the dints created by shadows, we can guess that the framework is composed of a dock with two sheds. One of them, at the left of the installation, exudes an orangey-yellowish light –mysterious but not too intense, not to monopolize the attention of the viewer. The other shed, further from the viewer, is slightly elevated and facing left to create an impression of depth. The structure is actually made of wood, corrugated metal and rubber. Donna Dennis creates this installation in her studio in New York and recreates it for this exhibition at the Lesley Heller Gallery. By controlling the conditions under which the viewer experiences this installation, the artist invites you to contemplate the landscape and to lose notion of time. This procedure has already been used by Marcel Duchamp in “Étant donnés” (1946-1966), a small room with a locked wooden door where you can see through a peephole a landscape with a naked female figure. The video of this mixed media installation lasts 4.30 minutes, but the gallerist said it wasn’t rare that viewers stayed longer to enjoy a timeless moment, due to the immersive power of this overall installation.

Off the Wall on the Boundary of Painting + Sculpture
June 15 – July 27, 2018 | Locks Gallery, Philadelphia

By: Léa Miranda

Including works by artists who have mounted critical solo exhibitions like the Academicians Richard Artschwager, Jennifer Bartlett, Lynda Benglis, Robert Rauschenberg, Joel Shapiro, and Frank Stella, the Locks Gallery challenges our preconceived ideas about artwork to present a sophisticated and refreshing exhibition.

Some of the artists are best known for their paintings, other ones for their sculptures or for their installations, but the Gallery chooses to focus on the contemporary tendency that was seeded in the late 1950s but continues to the present, which has decided to drop the partition between painting and sculpture and to focus on the first nature of the objects: works of art.

The exhibition starts with a work from Joel Shapiro, who is well known for his sculptures and their position and proximity with the viewer. In his recent investigations of the expressive possibility of form and color in space, he suspends painted wooden elements from the ceiling, wall, and floor, exploring the projection of thought into space without the constraint of architecture. “Untitled” (1987-1988), a bronze with gold patina work hanging on the wall falls within the artist’s latest work.

Frank Stella on his part is using geometric patterns and shapes to create both paintings and sculptures. With “Anecdote from the Recent War” (1999) and “A Passage from the Higher Criticism” (1999), two mixed media on cast aluminum works, he wants to show the painting’s physical parameters rather than the illusion of space contained within it. To create these works, he used collages and maquettes that were then enlarged and recreated with the aid of assistants, industrial metal cutters, and digital technologies. The artist started to utilize this technique in the mid-1980s, when he created a large body of work that responded in a general way to Herman Melville’s Moby Dick.

Furthermore, “Contrapposto” (2017) by Lynda Benglis is a handmade paper over chicken wire painted with acrylic, which distorts traditional rectilinear painted planes as well as the sculptural tradition of casting as it extends out and away from its origin. This artwork was made in the context of “Post Minimalism,” a notion used for the first time by the art critic and historian Robert Pincus-Witten in 1971 to describe Eva Hesse works. While capturing the Minimalist heritage, the Post Minimalist artists depart from it by creating art objects that do not have the representational function of traditional sculpture, objects that are abstract, anonymous in appearance, and have a strong material presence. To a certain extent, they reacted against the earlier movement's impersonality, trying to invest sculpture once again with emotionally expressive qualities. 

Some people may ask “Is it a painting or sculpture?” Earlier in the century, Alberto Giacometti made fun of those distinctions by calling one of his paintings “Sculpture” (1927) and creating an ambiguity between the subject represented and the object. The important point here is the intention of the artists who are consistently interested in dissolving the preexisting distinctions used to classify works of art, and to go beyond them.

Jennifer Bartlett is an artist whose paintings, drawings and prints combine abstraction and representation. “I think of bringing the image out, pushing it down, bringing it out, pushing it down,” she said in an interview with Hillary M. Sheets from the New York Times on the occasion of her retrospective at the Parish Museum of Art in 2013. It is exactly what she did with “Fire / Three Cones” (1989), an oil on canvas representing a fire and three grey cones, that she takes out of the painting and duplicates in sculptures. Placed in the exact same position, the three sculptural cone elements seem to emerge directly from the painting and create an uncanny variation of layouts between the two-dimensional oil on canvas work and the three-dimensional cones, in a kind of augmented reality.

Robert Rauschenberg’s work is about establishing a dialogue between mediums, between handmade and readymade, between the gestural brushstroke and the mechanically reproduced image. In “Pegasits/ROCI USA (Wax Fire Works)” (1990), the artist introduces different unexpected elements between the art work and the viewer and outstrips the rigidity of the framework. By using acrylic and fire wax to reproduce images, wood patterns, bottles and texts from newspapers – elements that can be found in his landmark series of Combines (1954-1964) – he creates an impression of depth, due to the stainless steel used as a canvas. Moreover, he includes a chair arranged horizontally on the top of the work to break with the classical flattened frame. It is painted in the same silvery color as the printed image on the stainless steel, and it easily merges with the other mediums of the work to create a coherent and balanced set. The viewer is free to interact with the artwork by playing with his reflection on the untouched mirrored metal part of this Dada-inspired assemblage.

The thematic narrative of the exhibition continues through the notion of deformation that artists use to alter the viewers’ standards. This is what David Row has recourse to, to produce “Depth Grammar” (2017), an artwork made with three panels forming a hexagonal canvas, on which there is a yellowish-ochre cross on a black background. By pushing the boundaries of the traditional media distinctions and using irregularly shaped canvases and rich colors, the artist questions our a priori and celebrates the canvas in all ways.

Moreover Richard Artschwager is using the intersecting gallery walls to create a form within a right-angled corner to present his peculiar construction “Untitled (Splatter, Desk, Chair, Typewriter)” (1997). He causes a confusion by playing with shapes, materials and colors: on a wood panel base, the artist partly preserves the raw material, while partly covering it with formica and aluminum, and partly paints it to reproduce the wood pattern and create a trompe l’oeil, in a kind of postmodern use of the Greek and Roman technique from the Baroque period.

With Off the Wall, the Gallery takes a side, discusses and challenges our tendency to classify artists by the nature of their works. While continuing to explore this postmodern dissolution of usual media distinctions, the exhibition offers an idiosyncratic snapshot of a dissident contemporary movement, in agreement with the intention of the Locks Gallery to combine fresh perspectives of the 20th century in contemporary art.

Nathale Annete Nicoletti

Nathale Annete Nicoletti

Nathale Nicoletti is from Sorocaba, Brazil where she is in her second year studying Architecture and Urbanism at Universidade de Sorocaba (Uniso). Nathale received her International Baccalaureate from Rossall School in the United Kingdom. She also completed the Intro to Architecture program at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation in New York. Nathale’s interests in architecture and art history brought her to the National Academy of Design this summer. An avid traveler, Nathale has visited countries on five continents, always looking for inspiration and knowledge from around the world.

Sue Coe: Graphic Resistance
MoMA PS1 | Through September 9

"Graphic Resistance," is an exhibition by English artist and illustrator Sue Coe. Her works are mainly drawings and printmaking using the form of illustrated books and comics. The strong content of the whole exhibition creates a big impact on the audience. Her work shows art as a protest — political activism — where she highlights issues like sexism, racism, economic inequality, xenophobia but mainly animal cruelty. She has a focus on the right of marginalized peoples and criticizes capitalism.

You are able to find selections of drawings, prints, large-scale collages and some of her notes where we can try to understand how she felt about all of our past society and present. Her works are reminiscent of Francisco Goya and theModern Art Week” of 1922 in the way she shows the injustices and abuses of power of our society. 

Regarding the work Woman Walks into the bar – Is Raped by Four Men on the Pool Table – While 20 Watch, 1983, her first attempt of this mixed media picture was in a smaller scale that she published in a newspaper; the drawing was censored, focusing only on the woman, where we couldn’t see the violence of the men towards the woman. Because of that, she made this huge version so nobody would have any questions about it. There are a lot of details, where you can find phrases and a newspaper headline, allowing one to understand everything that is happening in the picture. All women could be that woman.

To make a bigger impact, the colors that she normally uses are dark tones, such as dark green, black, dark red and others. She is trying to call her audience to action — we have to change the way we live in this society — what will remain if we continue like this? When you get into the exhibition it is hard to not feel overwhelmed, bringing on feelings of disgust and sadness. 

Art is an important political tool, not only because it is a reflection of the current culture of its time, but also has the power to provide a range of representations of the various issues at hand, whether of the marginalized sectors of a society or of the population against the arbitrariness of the state that governs it. Seeing art as a materialization of culture, we can consider that, like culture, art has some widely debated functions, both as a mode of entertainment and as a reproduction of the traditions of a people.

Kathy Butterly, NA, 2017 Tiffany Foundation Grant Recipient

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Congrats to Kathy Butterly, NA for being amongst 30 recipients of the 2017 biennial grants from The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation!

The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation announced the recipients of its 2017 biennial grants. Thirty artists who work in painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video, craft, and new media will each be awarded $20,000 in order to produce new work. In May 2018, their artwork will be documented in a catalogue published by the foundation.

The recipients were chosen from a pool of 156 people, who were nominated by artists, critics, museum professionals, and foundation trustees. The seven-member jury was made up of Phong Bui, cofounder and artistic director of the Brooklyn Rail; Ruth Estévez, the director and curator of REDCAT Gallery in Los Angeles; Alison de Lima Greene, a curator at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Chrissie Iles, a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art; artist Charles LeDray; artist Kerry James Marshall; and Bruce W. Pepich, the executive director and curator of collections at the Racine Art Museum in Wisconsin.

“Few events are more exciting and encouraging than being nominated to compete for prizes you can't apply for,” Marshall, a former grantee and foundation trustee, said. “It is the kind of endorsement that gets the wind at your back, and since my 1993 Tiffany grant, it's been full speed ahead.”

Established in 1918 by Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of Tiffany & Company founder Charles Louis Tiffany, the foundation has distributed nearly $10,000,000 in awards to five hundred artists nationwide since it launched its biennial competition in 1980. In November 2017, the Aspen Institute recognized the foundation’s service to artists with its service salute.

The full list of recipients is as follows:

Nina Chanel Abney, Jersey City, NJ

niv Acosta, Brooklyn, NY

Kathy Butterly, New York, NY

Karon Davis, Ojai, CA

Abigail DeVille, Fort Lee, NJ

Rafa Esparza, Pasadena, CA

Raque Ford, Brooklyn, NY

Juliana Huxtable, Brooklyn, NY

Kahlil Joseph, Los Angeles, CA

Titus Kaphar, New Haven, CT

Ellen Lesperance, Portland, OR

Candice Lin, Altadena, CA

Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Philadelphia, PA

Zachary Meisner, Austin, TX

Ebony G. Patterson, Lexington, KY

Beverly Penn, Austin, TX

Sondra Perry, Perth Amboy, NJ

Peter Pincus, Penfield, NY

Sean Raspet, Los Angeles, CA

Wendy Red Star, Portland, OR

Cameron Rowland, Queens, NY

Jessica Sanders, Brooklyn, NY

Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, San Juan, PR

Regina Scully, New Orleans, LA

Kaneem Smith, Houston, TX

Matthew Solomon, Lake Huntington, NY

Jesse Stecklow, Los Angeles, CA

Martine Syms, Los Angeles, CA

Kazumi Tanaka, Beacon, NY

Tomas Vu-Daniel, New York, NY

Maura Reilly, NA Executive Director, in an Interview - Towards a Just Art World


A curator and arts writer, Maura Reilly has dedicated her career to contemporary art in/of/from the margins. She was the Founding Curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist at the Brooklyn Museum, the first museum exhibition space of its kind in the world. Established through the generosity of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, it is an exhibition and education environment dedicated to feminist art — its past, present, and future. While working at the Center, Reilly organized multiple exhibitions, including the permanent installation of Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party and the blockbuster Global Feminisms co-curated with Linda Nochlin.

Reilly has curated, lectured, and published extensively, both nationally and internationally, and has been a regular contributor to Art in America since 1998. She is the author and editor of many books and articles on contemporary art, including a monograph on Ghada Amer, ARTnews Special Issue on Women in the Art WorldWomen Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader and Curatorial Activism: Towards an ethics of Curating.

She has received numerous awards, including a prestigious Future Women Leadership Awards in celebration of ArtTable’s 25th year Anniversary, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Caucus for Art, and in 2015 was voted one of the 50 most powerful people in the art world by both Blouin Art Info and Art+Auction.

Installation view of Ghada Amer: Love Has No End at the Brooklyn Museum, curated by Maura Reilly

Installation view of Ghada Amer: Love Has No End at the Brooklyn Museum, curated by Maura Reilly

On Curatorial Activism

This year, Maura Reilly has published Curatorial Activism: Towards an Ethics of Curatinga handbook of new curatorial strategies, based on pioneering examples of innovative recent efforts to offset racial and gender disparities in the art world. Addressing the current art world statistics and the continual underrepresentation of female artists, Reilly asks:


How can we get people in the art world to think about gender, race, and sexuality, to understand that these are persistent concerns that require action?; How can we all contribute to ensuring that the art world becomes more inclusive?

Indeed, Reilly’s book urges us not to sit and wait for change to come, but calls to action in order to create an art world that is just. Focusing on feminism, race and sexuality in thematic sections, the author exposes disparities and exclusionary models of collecting and display, but at the same time examines and illustrates pioneering exhibitions and initiatives that show that new approaches and inclusive solutions are possible.

Celebrating the work of numerous curatorial activists that have committed themselves to insurrectionist initiatives, including Jean Hubert Martin, Okwui Enwezor, Rosa Martinez, Jonathan Katz, Camille Morineau, Michiko Kasahara, and Paweł Leszkowicz, Reilly offers a compelling manifesto for change in the art world.

We had a chat with Maura Reilly to find out more about her latest book and her inspiring work in general. In an exclusive Widewalls interview, Maura talks about curatorial activism, her work at the Sackler Center for Feminist Art, the Linda Nochlin Reader, counting as a feminist strategy, and much more.

Left:  Curatorial Activism by Maura Reilly /  Right:  Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader, edited by Maura Reilly

Left: Curatorial Activism by Maura Reilly / Right: Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader, edited by Maura Reilly

The Work at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Widewalls: You are the Founding Curator of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum, where you established the first exhibition space in the world dedicated exclusively to feminist art. How do you see the role of such a space in a renewed mainstream interest in feminist art?

Maura Reilly: I don’t agree that there is a sustained interest in feminist art. I think there is a temporary, fleeting interest at the moment.

Widewalls: While at the Sackler Center for Feminist Art, you organized several exhibitions, including the permanent reinstallation of Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party. The museum is now revisiting this acclaimed piece with a show examining its formal, material, and conceptual development. How would you describe the legacy of this work and its relevance today?

MR: The Dinner Party is one of the most significant artworks of the 20th century—in scale, content, and influence. It’s also very dated—specific to the 1970s. In order to remain relevant today, I believe its content needs to be shared online and brought-up-to-date, which is why, while there, I built the Dinner Party database, which has entries for all of the 1,083 women featured therein. That database needs to be expanded, renewed; more lectures on the work and its legacy held, especially given the installation is meant to be on view permanently.

Judy Chicago – The Dinner Party, 1974–79. Ceramic, porcelain, textile, 576 × 576 in. (1463 × 1463 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10. © Judy Chicago. (Photo: Donald Woodman)

Judy Chicago – The Dinner Party, 1974–79. Ceramic, porcelain, textile, 576 × 576 in. (1463 × 1463 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation, 2002.10. © Judy Chicago. (Photo: Donald Woodman)

Linda Nochlin and Counting as a Feminist Strategy

Widewalls: Over 40 years ago, Linda Nochlin posed the controversial question regarding the existence of “great” women artists, arguing it was opportunity, not ability, that held women back historically. Her groundbreaking body of work that continues to inform feminist artists and art theoreticians is honored in the “Women Artists: The Linda Nochlin Reader,” which you edited in 2015. What was your motivation for editing this book?

MR: Linda was my MA and Ph.D. advisor at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Over the years, we became close friends and collaborators—co-writing essays and co-curating exhibitions, notably the Global Feminisms show we organized for the Brooklyn Museum in 2007. Towards the end of her life, I felt compelled to pay homage to her and thought a compilation of her writings on women artists would be a wonderful contribution to the fields of art history, women’s studies, and visual art, in general. She was very proud of that book. It was a labor of love, but I’m thrilled I did it.

Widewalls: In 2015, you published an essay titled “Taking the Measure of Sexism: Facts, Figures, and Fixes” where you present the factual data that illustrates the gender gap in the art world. What is the significance of statistics and empirical data in the methodology of a feminist theoretician?

MR: Counting is a feminist strategy—or so the Guerrilla Girls have demonstrated. One can argue that women artists are discriminated against but with a graph or chart chockfull of empirical data there can be no denying it. Numbers don’t lie.

Installation view of Burning Down the House: Building a Feminist Art Collection at the Brooklyn Museum, curated by Maura Reilly

Installation view of Burning Down the House: Building a Feminist Art Collection at the Brooklyn Museum, curated by Maura Reilly

Curatorial Activism

Widewalls: In the last few years, we are witnessing a resurgence of all-women shows, as well as the rise of major solo shows of women artists. What do you think is the reason behind this and what kind of impact could it have regarding the gender disparity? 

MR: Again, I don’t think a handful of all-women or solo women shows represents a “resurgence.”

Widewalls: This year, you have published a book titled “Curatorial Activism: Towards an Ethics of Curating”. Could you tell us something about this publication? What does curatorial activism mean to you?

MR: “Curatorial activism,” is a term I use to designate the practice of organizing art exhibitions with the principal aim of ensuring that certain constituencies of artists are no longer ghettoized or excluded from the master narratives of art. It is a practice that commits itself to counter-hegemonic initiatives that give voice to those who have been historically silenced or omitted altogether—and, as such, focuses almost exclusively on work produced by women, artists of color, non-Euro-Americans, and/or queer artists. The thesis of my book takes as its operative assumption that the art system—its history, institutions, market, press, and so forth—is a hegemony that privileges white male creativity to the exclusion of all Other artists. It also insists that this white Western male viewpoint, which has been unconsciously accepted as the prevailing viewpoint, “may––and does––prove to be inadequate not merely on moral and ethical grounds, or because it is elitist, but on purely intellectual ones.”

The book itself is a manifesto for change in the art world.


Editors’ Tip: Curatorial Activism: Towards an Ethics of Curating by Maura Reilly

Arranged in thematic sections focusing on feminism, race, and sexuality, Curatorial Activism examines and illustrates pioneering examples of exhibitions that have broken down boundaries and demonstrated that new approaches are possible, from Linda Nochlin’s “Women Artists” at LACMA in the mid-1970s to Jean-Hubert Martin’s “Carambolages” in 2016 at the Grand Palais in Paris. Profiles key exhibitions by pioneering curators including Okwui Enwezor, Linda Nochlin, Jean-Hubert Martin and Nan Goldin, with a foreword by Lucy Lippard, internationally known art critic, activist and curator, and early champion of feminist art, this volume is both an invaluable source of practical information for those who understand that institutions must be a driving force in this area and a vital source of inspiration for today’s expanding new generation of curators.

Featured image: Maura Reilly, photo by Andrew Watson.

Works by Aschheim, Burckhardt, and Scott Join the Collection

Intending the National Academy to be an organization of the leading artists and architects shaping American visual culture, the founders stipulated that upon election, each National Academician present a representative work, or diploma work, that becomes part of the permanent collection. This legacy has guided the formation of a collection unlike any other in the United States, shaped by the artist and architect members.  Thus, the Academy’s collection embodies the institution’s distinctive history, which has intersected with and catalyzed the development of 19th through 21st century American art.

Representing more than 2,000 artists and architects, this preeminent collection spans 200 years of history and includes nearly 8,000 works of art, from paintings, drawings, sculptures, watercolors, prints, photographs, videos, and mixed-media works, to architectural drawings, renderings, and models.  It is our pleasure to share news about newly submitted works by artists Eve Aschheim, Tom Burckhardt, and Dread Scott to the Academy’s collection.


Eve Aschheim (NA 2017)

Decider, 2017

Oil and graphite on canvas on panel

18 1/4 x 14 1/16 in.


Tom Burckhardt (NA 2016)

As of Yet Untitled, 2012

Oil on cast plastic

16 x 20 in.


Dread Scott (NA 2016)

Harmed & Dangerous, 1993

Cibachrome prints, soundtrack, phones, Plexiglass, wood, and Masonite

8 x 10 x 8 ft.

Learn about Harmed & Dangerous on Scott's website.

Chuck Webster, NAAF 2017 Winner

PHOTO – Chuck Webster

PHOTO – Chuck Webster

The National Academy Affiliated Fellow (NAAF) program has been a success in generating a talented group of strong candidates for selection from its inception in 2015. The purpose of the NAAF is to provide an opportunity for mid-career artists and architects to advance their skills through interacting and working in one of the oldest and most inspiring cosmopolitan cities in the world while living in the dynamic community of artists, architects and scholars at the American Academy in Rome (AAR) ( 

Now in its third year, the Abbey Council is happy to announce this year’s Fellow is Chuck Webster, visual artist, who will be heading to the AAR for an eight-week residency to begin in January, 2017 and continue through mid-March.

The NAAF is supported by the Abbey Fund with the aim to create an opportunity for a visual artist or architect to enrich their career through study in the inspiring historic city of Rome at AAR. Abbey Council members: James Siena, NA, Chair; Walter Chatham, NA; Ann Hamilton, NA; Walter Hood, NA; and Billie Tsien, NA and Melissa Meyer, NA would like to thank all of the candidates that were nominated this year.

The National Academy thanks the Abbey Council for their diligence and thoughtfulness in selecting the winner of the 2017 National Academy Affiliated Fellowship.

Click below to view gallery

National Academicians Pen Letter in Support of Dana Schutz and the ICA-Boston

Members of the National Academy recently circulated a letter in support of fellow NA Dana Schutz’s exhibition at the ICA-Boston, which was reported on in Artnews, Art Forum, and elsewhere.  Since its release, even more NAs have added their names, and an updated list of 94 signers, along with the letter in full, is below.