Exhibit | April 4, 2011

Exhibition at The Morgan Looks at the 'To-Do' Lists of Artists and Writers

New York, NY, April 4, 2011—From the weekly shopping list to the Ten Commandments, our lives are full of lists—some dashed off quickly, others beautifully illustrated, all providing insight into the personalities and habits of their makers. Beginning June 3, a new exhibition at The Morgan Library & Museum celebrates this most common form of documentation by presenting an array of lists made by a broad range of artists, from Pablo Picasso and Alexander Calder to H. L. Mencken, Eero Saarinen, Elaine de Kooning, and Lee Krasner. Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists' Enumerations from the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art is on view through October 2. With examples such as Picasso's picks for the great artists of his age (Gris, Léger, etc.), H. L. Mencken's autobiographical facts ("I never have a head-ache from drink"), and Robert Smithson's collection of quotations about spirals, the items on view are intriguing, revealing, humorous, and poignant.????

The exhibition, which is organized by the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art, presents some eighty lists, including "to-dos," paintings sold, appointments made and met, supplies to get and places to see, and people who are "in." Some documents are historically important, throwing light on a moment, movement, or event; others are private, providing an intimate view of an artist's personal life. Eero Saarinen, for example, enumerated the good qualities of New York Times art editor and critic Aline Bernstein, his soon-to-be second wife. Oscar Bluemner crafted lists of color combinations for a single painting. Picasso itemized his recommendations for the ground-breaking 1913 Armory show, and Grant Wood listed previous economic depressions, perhaps with the hope that the Great Depression would soon end. ??

"This exhibition provides a revealing glimpse into the everyday world of great artists by presenting items of the most common type," said William M. Griswold, director of The Morgan Library & Museum. "Lists are both practical and personal. They record momentary working concerns, while also offering insight into an artist's private observations and recollections. They provide biographical context and reveal details about personal taste and opinion."????

Sculptor Alexander Calder lived in Paris from 1926 to 1933. He kept an address list of his French connections in his handmade address book. On view in the exhibition are multiple pages, which include contact information for Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi, German photographer Ilse Bing, and American composer George Antheil, among others. ????

Perhaps the most famous list is Pablo Picasso's recommendations for the 1913 Armory Show, the first international exhibition of Modern art in the United States. He names Marcel Duchamp, whose Nude Descending a Staircase (1912) would cause an uproar in the American press, Fernand Léger, and the Spaniard Juan Gris as candidates to be included in the exhibition. All would later become Modern masters.????

On a different level, lists can be task oriented. Jeweler Margaret De Patta kept a list of orders for her Modernist creations—rings, earrings, pins, pendants, bracelets—with the name of the piece and purchaser. She obviously derived great satisfaction from finishing projects: when she completed an order, she crossed off the name of the buyer and the item, transforming her to-do list into a done list. Artist N. C. Wyeth made a list of the titles of the watercolors created by his son, Andrew, for the latter's first one-person gallery show in New York.????

Lists also tell us what we have done or what we hope to do. Artist Janice Lowry's elaborate illustrated journals are peppered with to-do lists. The recurrent tasks (pay bills, make doctor's appointment) are interspersed with her dream recollections and random thoughts, each page thick with collaged images, stamps, and stickers—a vivid backdrop for her daily tours.

In some cases, lists are less about itemizing facts and more about identifying emotions. Abstract Expressionist artist Lee Krasner responded to a list of questions from an art student by enumerating her reactions to finishing, selling, and exhibiting her work.????

Before the age of computers and easily updated electronic lists, artists like Philip Evergood kept current by manually adding information to their lists. Evergood made a list of photographers and framers by gluing their business cards and other contact information together in one long strip. Each new attachment expanded his network.

Lists can be ordinary but telling, as in Franz Kline's receipt from John Heller's Liquor Store in Greenwich Village, dated December 31, 1960. Presumably purchasing booze for a blowout New Year's Eve Party, Kline spent $274.51—an extravagant sum in 1960. He had the liquor—red wines, Scotch, whisky, cognac, vermouth, and champagne—delivered to his loft at 242 West Fourteenth Street in New York City. ????

It comes as no surprise that artists would illustrate their lists. In 1932 painter and color theorist Oscar Bluemner made an illustrated list of his recently completed landscape paintings, including thumbnail sketches with the dimension, date, media, and sometimes the subject of the work. His list was a graphic catalog, a snapshot of his current production. ????

It is often the casual record that reveals the rhythms of an age. Lists, whether dashed off as a quick reminder or carefully constructed as a comprehensive inventory, give insight into the list maker's personal habits and enrich the understanding of individual biographies. In the hands of their creators, these artifacts sometimes become works of art in and of themselves.

????A companion book to the exhibition, published by Princeton Architectural Press, includes an introduction by John W. Smith, director of the Archives, and an essay by Liza Kirwin, the Archives' curator of manuscripts. ????

Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists' Enumerations from the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art is organized by Liza Kirwin, the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art's curator of manuscripts. The Archives of American Art is the world's pre-eminent resource dedicated to collecting and preserving the papers and primary records of the visual arts in America.????

This exhibition is made possible in part by the Charles E. Pierce, Jr. Fund for Exhibitions.

The programs of The Morgan Library & Museum are made possible in part with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and from the New York State Council on the Arts.

Gallery Talk: ??Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists' Enumerations from the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art
??Liza Kirwin, Curator of Manuscripts, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
??June 3, 2011, 7 pm ????

The Morgan Library & Museum??
The Morgan Library & Museum began as the private library of financier Pierpont Morgan, one of the preeminent collectors and cultural benefactors in the United States. Today, more than a century after its founding in 1906, the Morgan serves as a museum, independent research library, musical venue, architectural landmark, and historic site. In October 2010, the Morgan completed the first-ever restoration of its original McKim building, Pierpont Morgan's private library, and the core of the institution. In tandem with the 2006 expansion project by architect Renzo Piano, the Morgan now provides visitors unprecedented access to its world-renowned collections of drawings, literary and historical manuscripts, musical scores, medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, printed books, and ancient Near Eastern seals and tablets. ????

General Information??
The Morgan Library & Museum??
225 Madison Avenue, at 36th Street, New York, NY 10016-3405??
Hours??Tuesday-Thursday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; extended Friday hours, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; closed Mondays, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. The Morgan closes at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.????Admission??$15 for adults; $10 for students, seniors (65 and over), and children (under 16); free to Members and children, 12 and under accompanied by an adult.

Admission is free on Fridays from 7 to 9 p.m. Admission is not required to visit the Morgan Shop.