We are very spoilt here in DC with many museums and galleries. During the 13 years I’ve lived here I’ve been to most of them, some of them multiple times, but I’ve just had my first visit to the Corcoran Gallery of Art. The Corcoran is the oldest & largest privately funded cultural institution in DC. Its mission is to be “dedicated to art and used solely for the purpose of encouraging the American genius”.
William Corcoran used to open his home twice a week to allow viewing of his art collection. In 1859 he commissioned James Renwick to design a gallery (now the Renwick Gallery) to house his collection – construction was halted during the Civil War when the federal government seized the building but eventually it was completed and in May 1869 Corcoran deeded the building, grounds, & a $100, 000 private collection to the nine members of a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees. In 1870 the institution was chartered and exempted from taxes by an Act of Congress and The Corcoran Gallery of Art formally opened on January 19, 1874 with an exhibition of 98 paintings and sculptures. By the end of 1874 the collection had expanded to more than 300 works and by 1890 the collection had outgrown the building. The Trustees bought land and commissioned architect Ernest Flagg to design a Beaux-Arts style building to house the art and a school. Ground was broken on June 26, 1893 and the finished building opened to the public on January 8, 1897 – by this time the collection had grown to more than 700 works of art.
Corcoran instructed his Trustees to open the gallery free to the public twice a week. The other days a “reasonable fee” for charged. Senator H.S. Foote commented in 1873, “If all the great capitalists that our country contains could be persuaded to imitate his noble example, our republic would so become paradise.”
The upper levels of the building are brick faced with White Georgia Cherokee marble and the basement level is constructed of Pink Milford granite. The building decorations are marble in beaux- arts style.
The exhibit we went to see was “Pump Me Up: DC Subculture of the 1980s” – it was curated by graffiti historian & film producer Roger Gastman, and covered the Go-go and Punk movements, along with graffiti, which thrived in DC during a decade otherwise marked by crime and crack cocaine. The exhibit wound its way around the walls
I asked if I could take photos and they said yes I could take photos of “everything except photos” – Cool “Disco” Dan (the quotation marks are part of it) is the pseudonym of Dan Hogg who has been spraying his tag since 1984. He maintains that he avoided being jailed or killed by devoting himself to graffiti rather than drugs or gang involvement.
Jeff Nelson, musician & co-founder of Dischord Records, silkscreen “Meese is a Pig” poster with a list of alleged transgressions. Members of the punk community helped paste the posters around DC – those caught were arrested by the FBI.
Public Service poster… A city of murder: There were 3,056 homicide victims from 1st January 1987 – December 1991 Unidentified victims are included in that total. There are a lot of really young people in this list Posters were the prime publicity tools for Washington’s thriving go-go scene and they were conceived at Globe Poster Printing Corp., the Baltimore press of brothers Bob and Frank Cicero. Washington was Globe’s biggest market in the ’80s and at the height of Go-go, Globe produced a thousand posters a day.
This is afro.died.t., 2011 by iona rozeal brown (lower case as it was on the little tag)Auvers-sur-Oise (Crow in the Wheat Field) 1981 by Robert Colescott Hand Held, 1996 by Jane Hammond. Hammond explored systems of language & information. For 20 years she limited her works to 276 found images. In this picture each state is occupied by at least one picture from her collection.
There was a grand room … the Salon Dore – an example of early neoclassical style. It was originally part of a grand Parisian home, the hotel de Clermont. The room was commissioned by Pierre-Gaspard-Marie Grimod, Count d’Orsay, as a drawing room for Marie-Louise-Albertine-Amelie who he married in 1770. The salon was dismantled at the end of the 19th century and sold to Senator William A. Clark who installed it in his house on Fifth Avenue in New York. The salon came to the Corcoran in 1926 as part of the Clark bequest.Girl on Globe 2, 2011 by Yinka Shonibare. Notice that she is headless – Shonibare intends this to evoke the beheading of the French aristocracy during the Revolution of 1789-99 as well as to remind us of our own capacity for mindlessness in contemporary life.. The colour of the globe indicates global warming. We finished our visit with a self portrait: (inside another of those unexplainable bits of art)