CLOSE
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

15 Handwritten Letters From Famous Artists

Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

Visual artists are known for their art, not their handwriting, but their penmanship can offer serious insight into the person behind the words. Pen to Paper: Artists’ Handwritten Letters from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art by Mary Savig is proof of that. The book is a collection of handwritten letters from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. It features dispatches from over 50 well-known American artists, from Alexander Calder to Georgia O’Keeffe, along with transcriptions, additional images and artwork, commentary and analysis on what we might be able to glean from their writing style.

You can see a few of the letters below (all images courtesy of Pen to Paper, and the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art), and purchase the anthology from Princeton Architectural Press here or Amazon here.

1. MARY CASSATT TO JOHN WESLEY BEATTY, SEPTEMBER 5, 1905

2. GEORGE CATLIN TO D. S. GREGORY, JULY 19 — AUGUST 21, 1834

3. JOSEPH CORNELL, DRAFTS OF LETTER TO TEENY DUCHAMP, OCTOBER 8 AND 9, 1968

4. WILLEM DE KOONING TO MICHAEL LOEW, MARCH 28, 1966

5. DAN FLAVIN TO ELLEN H. JOHNSON, JANUARY 22, 1979

6. MARTIN JOHNSON HEADE TO FREDERIC EDWIN CHURCH, APRIL 27, MAY 6, JUNE 16, 1868

7. WINSLOW HOMER TO THOMAS B. CLARKE, JANUARY 4, 1901

8. RAY JOHNSON TO EVA LEE, SEPTEMBER 15, 1969

9. CORITA KENT TO BEN SHAHN, CIRCA 1960

10. LEE KRASNER TO JACKSON POLLOCK, JULY 21, 1956

11. CLAES OLDENBURG TO ELLEN H. JOHNSON, AUGUST 17, 1974

12. EERO SAARINEN TO ALINE SAARINEN, 1953

13. LENORE TAWNEY TO MARYETTE CHARLTON, FEBRUARY 15, 1969

14. JAMES MCNEILL WHISTLER TO FREDERICK H. ALLEN, JUNE 6, 1893

15. GRANT WOOD TO ZENOBIA NESS, OCTOBER 28, 1930

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Art
The Getty Center, Surrounded By Wildfires, Will Leave Its Art Where It Is
iStock
iStock

The wildfires sweeping through California have left countless homeowners and businesses scrambling as the blazes continue to grow out of control in various locations throughout the state. While art lovers worried when they heard that Los Angeles's Getty Center would be closing its doors this week, as the fires closed part of the 405 Freeway, there was a bit of good news. According to museum officials, the priceless works housed inside the famed Getty Center are said to be perfectly secure and won't need to be evacuated from the facility.

“The safest place for the art is right here at the Getty,” Ron Hartwig, the Getty’s vice president of communications, told the Los Angeles Times. According to its website, the museum was closed on December 5 and December 6 “to protect the collections from smoke from fires in the region,” but as of now, the art inside is staying put.

Though every museum has its own way of protecting the priceless works inside it, the Los Angeles Times notes that the Getty Center was constructed in such a way as to protect its contents from the very kind of emergency it's currently facing. The air throughout the gallery is filtered by a system that forces it out, rather than a filtration method which would bring air in. This system will keep the smoke and air pollutants from getting into the facility, and by closing the museum this week, the Getty is preventing the harmful air from entering the building through any open doors.

There is also a water tank at the facility that holds 1 million gallons in reserve for just such an occasion, and any brush on the property is routinely cleared away to prevent the likelihood of a fire spreading. The Getty Villa, a separate campus located in the Pacific Palisades off the Pacific Coast Highway, was also closed out of concern for air quality this week.

The museum is currently working with the police and fire departments in the area to determine the need for future closures and the evacuation of any personnel. So far, the fires have claimed more than 83,000 acres of land, leading to the evacuation of thousands of people and the temporary closure of I-405, which runs right alongside the Getty near Los Angeles’s Bel-Air neighborhood.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
Art
This 77-Year-Old Artist Saves Money on Art Supplies by 'Painting' in Microsoft Excel
iStock
iStock

It takes a lot of creativity to turn a blank canvas into an inspired work of art. Japanese artist Tatsuo Horiuchi makes his pictures out of something that’s even more dull than a white page: an empty spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.

When he retired, the 77-year-old Horiuchi, whose work was recently spotlighted by Great Big Story, decided he wanted to get into art. At the time, he was hesitant to spend money on painting supplies or even computer software, though, so he began experimenting with one of the programs that was already at his disposal.

Horiuchi's unique “painting” method shows that in the right hands, Excel’s graph-building features can be used to bring colorful landscapes to life. The tranquil ponds, dense forests, and blossoming flowers in his art are made by drawing shapes with the software's line tool, then adding shading with the bucket tool.

Since picking up the hobby in the 2000s, Horiuchi has been awarded multiple prizes for his creative work with Excel. Let that be inspiration for Microsoft loyalists who are still broken up about the death of Paint.

You can get a behind-the-scenes look at the artist's process in the video below.

[h/t Great Big Story]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios