This spring, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, in partnership with Washington College in Chestertown, Md., present the second annual “American Pictures Distinguished Lecture Series.” The 2009 series speakers are Roz Chast, internationally recognized cartoonist for the New Yorker; leading Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer; critically acclaimed novelist Jamaica Kincaid; and actor, writer, visual artist and filmmaker John Waters.
“American Pictures” pairs great works of art with pre-eminent figures of contemporary American culture. Each lecture features a writer, critic, historian or artist who chooses a single image and investigates its meanings. In the process, the speaker also explores how works of art inspire creativity in many different fields and reveal American identity or a shared history. The series director is historian and essayist Adam Goodheart, who is director of the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College.
The series debuts Saturday, March 21, when Waters offers his insights into Cy Twombly’s drawing “Letter of Resignation” (1967). Kincaid will discuss the painting “Kept In” (1889) by Edward Lamson Henry Saturday, April 11. Holzer will examine John Henry Brown’s portrait of Abraham Lincoln (1860) Saturday, April 18. The 2009 series concludes Sunday, April 26, with Chast’s exploration of Charles Addams’s famous cartoon “Boiling Oil” (1946).
“American Pictures” is made possible through the pioneering partnership among Washington College, the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Additional support comes from the Starr Foundation, the Hodson Trust, the Hedgelawn Foundation and other donors.
All lectures, which are free and open to the public, take place at 4:30 p.m. in the museums’ Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium. Free tickets are available beginning at 3:30 p.m. at the G Street lobby information desk on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open for each lecture at 4 p.m.
The museums share a main entrance at Eight and F streets N.W. and are open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., except Dec. 25. Admission is free. Metrorail station: Gallery Place/Chinatown. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000; (202) 633-5285 (TTY). Web sites: americanart.si.edu and npg.si.edu.
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