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Love letters bring out the voyeur in most of us. These deeply personal communications have the power to make a reader blush or, at the very least, reveal a tender moment in the complex lives of others. Curator Liza Kirwin invites visitors to “take a break from texting to vicariously experience the romantic power of a handmade love letter. Emotionally charged and highly evocative, these letters speak to us as they did to their original recipients, allowing present-day readers to connect with the lives and loves of artists across time and space.” “A Thousand Kisses: Love Letters from the Archives of American Art” will be on display from Jan. 29, 2009, to March 27, 2009, in the Archives of American Art’s New York gallery.
This selection of affectionate communiqués and rare photographs gives insight into the lives of painters, sculptors, illustrators and others—their relationships, perceptions and creative energies—from the mid-19th to the late 20th century. Drawn from the collections of the Archives of American Art, there are letters, illustrated poems, collages and drawings that cover a range of intensity, from sexual passion between lovers to the devotion of a parent; from the durable bonds of friendship to the enthusiasm of fans.
Featured in the exhibition is a passionate letter signed with a red-lipstick kiss from Frida Kahlo to Nickolas Muray, written while she recuperated in a Paris hospital; an illustrated letter declaring “My darling-—I DO!” from Rockwell Kent to his future wife Frances Lee; and a poignant letter from Lee Krasner to Jackson Pollock in which she wrote, “I miss you & wish you were sharing this with me” only three weeks before Pollock died in an auto accident in New York while she was still in Europe.
The exhibition celebrates the Archives’ publication “With Love: Artists’ Letters and Illustrated Notes” by Liza Kirwin, curator of manuscripts, and Joan Lord, curatorial specialist, available from Collins Design.
About the Archives of American Art
The Archives of American Art is dedicated to the collection, preservation and study of papers and other primary records of the history of the visual arts in America. Its collections, comprising 16 million items, are the world’s largest single source for such information. Visit the Archives Web site at www.aaa.si.edu.
The Archives of American Art New York gallery is located on the lobby level at 1285 Avenue of the Americas, New York. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission is free. For information call (212) 399-5030.
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