Artists Unframed: Snapshots from the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art

Princeton Architectural Press

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Tucked away among the letters, diaries, and other ephemera in the Smithsonian's archives lies a trove of rarely seen snapshots of some of the twentieth century's most celebrated artists. Unlike the familiar official portraits and genius-at-work shots, these humble snaps capture creative giants with their guard down, in the moment, living life.

Pablo Picasso stands proudly on a balcony with young daughter Maya—a tiny, meticulously inked annotation penned by an unknown hand proclaims that "he's very much in love." Jackson Pollock morosely carves a turkey while his mother, Stella, and wife, Lee Krasner, look on. A young Andy Warhol clowns for the camera with college friend Philip Pearlstein, and in a later shot more closely resembles his famously enigmatic public self at a gallery opening with John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

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Merry A. Foresta is an independent curator and arts writer. A former curator of photography at the Smithsonian Institution, she served as the founding director of the Smithsonian Photography Initiative from 2000 to 2010.


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