Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists' Enumerations from the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art

Lisa Kirwin
208 pages
10 x 7 inches

From the weekly shopping list to the Ten Commandments, our lives are shaped by lists. Whether dashed off as a quick reminder or carefully constructed as an inventory, this humble form of documentation provides insight into its maker's personal habits and decision-making processes. . Artists' lists uncover a host of motivations, attitudes, and opinions about their work and the work of others. This work presents almost seventy artifacts, including "to do" lists, membership lists, lists of paintings sold, lists of books to read, lists of appointments made and met, lists of supplies to get, lists of places to see, and even lists of people who are "in." It’s a unique firsthand account of American cultural history that augments the biographies of some of the most celebrated and revered artists of the last two centuries.

Many of the lists are historically important, throwing light on a movement or event; others are private, providing an intimate view of an artist's personal life. Pablo Picasso itemized his recommendations for the Armory Show in 1912; architect Eero Saarinen enumerated the good qualities of the then New York Times art editor and critic Aline Bernstein, his second wife; and sculptor Alexander Calder's address book is a veritable who's who of the Parisian avant-garde in the early twentieth century. Also among the artists represented areVito Acconci, Leo Castelli, Joseph Cornell, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Reginald Marsh, H. L. Mencken, Pablo Picasso, Ad Reinhardt, Eero Saarinen, Robert Smithson, and N. C. Wyeth.