Campus News

Letters from 19th, 20th century artists on display at Georgia Museum of Art

More Than Words: Illustrated Letters from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, an exhibition spotlighting personal letters from some of the most important artists of the 19th and 20th centuries, will be on display at the Georgia Museum of Art until Oct. 14.

This exhibition provides a unique look into the lives of artists, including Thomas Eakins, Frida Kahlo, Marcel Duchamp, Dale Chihuly and Andy Warhol, through handwritten letters to family members, friends and business associates.

“The personal letters featured in More Than Words uncover new insights into the personalities and creative processes of some of America’s finest artists,” said Liza Kirwin, the exhibition’s curator and curator of manuscripts at the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art. “In this age of modern technology, the works are designed to inspire us to communicate more thoughtfully and remind us to cherish handwritten, personal communications.”

Each writer’s unique style provides interesting clues about his or her personality. While some of the letters were sent as personal notes, others explore the travels or business relations of the artists. Most of the letters include drawings, caricatures, watercolors or collages that further shed light on each artist’s individuality.

Throughout the exhibition, letters are arranged in sections by theme. The sections include “Bon Voyage,” containing letters written to and from travelers; “I Do,” consisting of letters written from the heart; “Plays on Words,” featuring creative letters using metaphors, puns or puzzles; “Visual Events,” describing key personal, professional and political events; “Graphic Instructions,” providing illustrated directives to the reader; and “Thank You,” showing letters of gratitude.

More Than Words is organized by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. The Archives of American Art was founded in 1954 at the Detroit Institute of Arts and joined the Smithsonian Institution in 1970. The Archives’ mission is to collect, preserve and make available primary sources documenting the history of the visual arts in the U.S.

More Than Words is organized in-house by Ashley Callahan, curator of the Henry D. Green Center for the Study of Decorative Arts at the Georgia Museum of Art, and is sponsored by the W. Newton Morris Charitable Foundation and the Friends of the Georgia Museum of Art.