October 16, 2017

Smithsonian Acquires Largest Audiovisual Art Archive

WASHINGTON, D.C.—More than five hundred New York panel discussions, screenings, and public dialogues about art have been procured by the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. Featuring artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Agnes Denes, Robert Longo, Ana Mendieta, and Alice Neel, the audio and visual collection is the largest ever acquired for the archive.

Founded in 1974 and considered the longest-running art discussion series, the Artists Talk on Art (ATOA) gifted thousands of records dealing with concerns in the American art world, dating from 1975 to 2015. Many of these dialogues are featured in Mutiny and the Mainstream: Talk That Changed Art, (1975–1990), a book by Judy Seigel published in 1992, and are considered a primary source for contemporary American art history.

“We see the fit with the Archives of American Art as uniquely perfect in that they are dedicated to maximum accessibility and democratic use, which is what we have always stood for,” said Douglas I. Sheer, cofounder and board chairman of Artists Talk on Art. “We were courted by a number of institutions and only Archives of American Art possessed the experience, capability, massive capacity, and appreciation of our historic content, which is what convinced us to choose them.”

Katie Haw, director of the Archives of American Art, said in a statement how invaluable these artist talks are: “Artists Talk on Art continues a venerable tradition, extending back to the nineteenth century, of artists gathering in studios and clubs to talk about issues of common concern.”

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