“Wish Tree for Washington, D.C.”
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is one of D.C.’s premier art galleries, attracting millions of visitors each year with its eye-catching exhibits. In 2007, during the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival, the Hirshhorn installed “Wish Tree for Washington, D.C.,” a sculpture by Yoko Ono aimed at promoting harmony and prosperity by having visitors write and attach “paper wishes” to the sprawling Japanese dogwood tree. Visitors have been able to attach their wishes every summer.
This June, the museum will celebrate the 10th anniversary of Ono’s “Wish Tree” with a series of performances and pieces inspired by the visionary artist. The original “Wish Tree” will be on show starting June 17, which will also see the the Washington debut of “My Mommy is Beautiful.” “My Mommy is Beautiful” is an interactive art installation by Ono that will allow participants to leave photos and keepsakes to celebrate their own mothers; it promises to be one of the Hirshhorn’s most engaging and poignant pieces of the year.
The museum will also invite visitors to observe a reinstallation of “Sky TV for Washington, D.C.” Originally created in 1966, Ono’s “Sky TV” plays a live feed of the world outside the Hirshhorn, encouraging its viewers to be more observant of their surroundings. This “Summer of Yoko Ono” concludes in September with a concert featuring Ono and performers from Washington, D.C., who will celebrate her legacy and lifetime of activism through song.
“Summer of Yoko Ono” will be available for viewing at the Hirshhorn from June 17 through September Admission to the Hirshhorn is free.
“Down These Mean Streets: Community and Place in Urban Photography”
Images of urban life have become prevalent across social media platforms in recent years as artists are increasingly able to provide online viewers with colorful snapshots of city life. Contemporary depictions of big cities often focus on the excitement and opportunity of the urban experience, drawing attention away from its many difficulties — particularly, in the inner city. The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s new gallery, “Down These Mean Streets: Community and Place in Urban Photography” explores the concept of city life in the late 20th century through the works of Latinx photographers, who bring raw and honest perspectives to the idealized perceptions of urban living.
The exhibit will showcase the works of 10 photographers who artfully capture the challenges of life on the streets in cities like Los Angeles and New York. Images in the exhibit reflect on issues of inequality, marginalization and the neglect of underprivileged communities, illustrating the power of the critical camera lens. Among the featured photographers are Frank Espada, an activist and documentary photographer best known for his poignant portraits of urban residents, and Oscar Castillo, who documented the Los Angeles-based Chicano movement of the 1960s, which aimed to secure civil rights for Mexican Americans.
“Down These Mean Streets” is on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum until Aug. 6.
“American Visionary: John F. Kennedy’s Life and Times”
The Smithsonian American Art Museum recently unveiled its newest project, “American Visionary: John F. Kennedy’s Life and Times,” a stunning photo exhibit that celebrates the legacy of the former president, who has long been considered a symbol of national character. Although he came into office at a time of high tension and uncertainty, Kennedy was able to shape a strong and confident American public by sharing his progressive and patriotic values. The Smithsonian Museum’s latest exhibit reflects on Kennedy’s lasting legacy by highlighting his most iconic quotes and photographs, which have been thoughtfully curated from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Getty Images and private and family collections.
Of over 34,000 images found in these archives, the exhibit has selected 77 photographs to showcase. These photographs document Kennedy’s life from his first Congressional campaign to the aftermath of his assassination in 1963 and illustrate both his active political career and enigmatic personal life. The gallery is divided into rooms marking different periods of Kennedy’s career — “The Making of JFK,” “The Road to the White House” and the “The New Frontier” — each of which provide a new perspective on his presidency. The exhibit is based on the book “JFK: A Vision for America,” edited by Stephen Kennedy Smith and Douglas Brinkley, and has been organized by Lawrence Schiller, a photojournalist from Kennedy’s presidential campaign trail.
The “American Visionary: John F Kennedy’s Life and Times” exhibit will be on display at the Smithsonian American Art Museum until Sept. 17. Read more online at thehoya.com.
“Artist Soldiers: Artistic Expression in the First World War”
The National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of American History have collaborated to produce “Artist Soldiers: Artistic Expression in the First World War,” an exhibit that re-examines World War I through the lens of art inspired by and created during the war. According to Peter Jakab, chief curator of the museum, the 1910s marked a time of significant cultural change, particularly with respect to attitude toward war. Artists began to move away from romanticized depictions of war toward a more authentic illustration of the tragic realities of battle.
Many of the pieces in “Artist Soldiers” have never before been seen by the public. Some are culled from the archives of the official U.S. war artists of the time: a group of professional artists commissioned to produce works that represented the experience of American soldiers in the war. Other works come from soldiers themselves, who provide raw and emotionally charged perspectives on their time in combat through painting, drawing, photography and other mediums of art.
“Artist Soldiers: Artistic Expression in the First World War” is on display at the National Air and Space Museum until Nov. 11, 2018.
“The Face of Battle: Americans at War, 9/11 to Now”
On April 7, the National Portrait Gallery opened “The Face of Battle: Americans at War, 9/11 to Now,” an exhibit committed to exploring and understanding the emotional and psychological effect of modern warfare on American soldiers. The gallery features 56 portraits by six contemporary photographers, in addition to a number of paintings, sculptures, drawings and other media-based artworks, including film and audio presentations.
Photographs in the exhibit shed light on the normalization of warfare in American society, particularly since the 9/11 attacks, and aim to humanize the experience of soldiers, both active and veteran. The gallery places a special focus on the theme of identity, looking at the threats to identity that soldiers may face while in battle. Although it explores the darker realities of war, the exhibit also hopes to celebrate soldiers’ commitment to their country and the honor the sacrifices they make in order to serve.
“The Face of Battle” continues the National Portrait Gallery’s “Portraiture Now” series, which promotes development in the realm of portrait-taking.
“The Face of Battle: Americans at War, 9/11 to Now” is on view at the National Portrait Gallery until Jan. 28, 2018.
“Markus Lüpertz: Threads of History”
Visitors to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden this summer will also be delighted to view the paintings of German contemporary artist Markus Lüpertz. Lüpertz is known for creating abstract, high-concept paintings and sculptures that incorporate religious and mythological symbolism and make reference to the history, culture and sociopolitical landscape of his birth country. His extensive body of work traces back to the 1960s, when he moved to Berlin from Paris, where he initially launched his career as an artist and began work on his first series of paintings. As his work progressed, Lüpertz began to emerge as a leading figure in the neo-expressionist movement of the 1970s, which rejected minimalist techniques in favor of more expressive, vivid art forms.
“Markus Lüpertz: Threads of History” will showcase the artist’s earlier paintings from the 1960s and 1970s with a focus on his pieces of abstract expressionism and pop art. Among these paintings will be his famous 40-foot work “Westwall [Siegfried Line],” in addition to more than 30 other pieces of art infrequently or never before displayed in the United States.
This gallery will be on view at the same time as the Phillips Collection’s upcoming exhibit, “Markus Lüpertz,” which displays select works from the artist’s entire career. This is Lüpertz’s first major showing in the United States, spanning two major museums. Visitors to the Hirshhorn and Phillips Collection can look forward to seeing the artist’s bold and colorful works, which not only broke artistic conventions of the time, but also sparked — and continue to encourage — intellectual discussion about the social and political landscape of Germany following World War II.
“Markus Lüpertz: Threads of History” can be viewed at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden from May 24 to Sept. 10. Admission to the Hirshhorn is free. “Markus Lüpertz” will be on display at the Phillips Collection from May 27 to Sept. 3. For non-members, admission is $12 for adults and $10 for students and visitors 62 and over.