PostcarDC 1.11: The one and only National Gallery, EAST WING

There is more than one “National Gallery,” and you would be dumb not to consider that the original is really the wonderful one in London formed in 1824. But the one in DC (not Canada) is the subject of this blog. This National Gallery DC was created in 1937 and is just as great to be at.

I love the East Wing. The Calders dominate the open area. In a way they are a little scary, all that steel floating over your head. There are rooms of Calders, big and small and they are set up beautifully (below). In the second shot above, you may notice what looks like a gondola. It really is, an announcement for a new show about Venetian artists.

Part of the East Wing is an everchanging gallery. Certain artists in the DC scene reverberate in other related museums (Hirshhorn, Portrait Gallery).

Nam June Paik and here his installation Ommah (below). I felt like showing the time change on it, after all it is an installation. That is what I like about the Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Gates in New York, so many people put videos on youtube, so you got a good sense of it. When I showed it onscreen in glass, I put up 2 videos at once and the kids were quite impressed by the Gates imagery.

For more on Nam Paik June check out

There were several terrific things this visit, including Bruce Nauman’s Fifteen Pairs of Hands, which were life castings of hands, reminescent of classical artist’s sketches of hands.

synecdoche – substituting a more inclusive term for a less inclusive one or vice versa

Which leads us to Bryon Kim’s Synecdoche, a study into skin tones (below).

Both sit nearby amochromatic Chuck Close portrait (two above). A few years ago the Orlando Museum of Art (OMA), had a work of Close which was a portrait made out of different shades and tints of paper, not unlike this in closeup!Sol Lewitt’s 2007 Wall drawn. . . , was not even drawn by him, but is an entire wall installation (detail, above) which the wall becomes entire surface of yellow, red, blue and black colored lines.  So you get the picture on why you have to find the East Wing intriguing. LeWitt is another DC sort of artist they are looking at (if least by the Hirshhorn’s spelling!).

Then, not to be outdone by the Modern, nor the Phillips, they did their own room full of Rothkos (near below) . As well as a room of Barnett Newmans (far below).

Rothko’s No 14, White and Greens in Blue, 1957 (left). Newman’s Be II, 1961 (right).

Newman’s Stations of the Cross and others.

For more about the two artists see:

There is a terrific c. 1922 Joan Miro painting called, The Farm. Before he went into all that kind of organic stuff. Seeing the Calder animals above in primary colors, made me think has anyone ever paired the two for a show?

The grouping of O’Keefe’s made me as happy as the William Johnson’s did in the Portrait Gallery.

Very beautiful is the Jack in the Pulpit series, here III and V. (left and right).

We are so used to seeing Alice Neel with someone in a chair, this was a beautiful painting, Loneliness nonpersona. Look how strongly she constructs this. Also funny was an odd little room with this as it’s manifesto!


Leaving off with a light note. I have a Thiebaud print in my classroom and the kids have commented about it as a still life (it sits near a print of Spoonbridge by Oldenburg, which they adore!

So this time I went to the Gallery, I took shots of the individual cakes in the 1963 Cakes (above) painting! I don’t know if anyone remember, but in the later 60s, Warhol did a commercial for Schraft’s. The sound over said “Andy Warhol for Schraft’s.” and all it was was a smoking hot fudge sundae. I wonder if Warhol knew Thiebaud’s work?

Last and never least, we had 10 minutes only to view them, before they threw the big door shut. Thank goodness for digital cameras, or else I could only share these wonderful Matisse cutouts in my heads. Under soft light they appear and they are the real star of my day there. Image having just taught this, and like, here they are and in person! See them if you can!

If these don’t interest you, there are works by Giacometti (and the compulsory Dubuffet), Lichtenstein, Feiniger, Hardsley, Soulages, Bacon, Dali et al, and all for the price of absolutely nothing. But perhaps a smile.

For information about the West Wing, please see:



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4 Responses to “PostcarDC 1.11: The one and only National Gallery, EAST WING”

  1. Amazing one-of-a-kind bronze hand sculpture | Amazing to know on earth Says:

    […] Photo via thinkVisual […]

  2. Highly Simple Hand Sculptures | buzzmilk Says:

    […] Photo:  thinkVisual […]

  3. Pretty superb | nauman artist - Tutorialsae Says:

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    • thinkvisual/thinkMuseum Says:

      Re: “There is more than one “National Gallery,” and you would be dumb not to consider that the original is really the wonderful one …”

      Each country has its own National Gallery, the original namesake from the famous British National Gallery, is also a wonderful, and free place to see fine works of art. In America, we often pay to get in, the Smithsonian system is free to the public, which is why I call it the one and only.

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