Editors' pick

National Gallery of Art

Art Museum
National Gallery of Art photo
(The National Gallery's West Building/Dayna Smith, The Washington Post)
Paintings, sculpture, drawings and photographs span the 17th to the 21st centuries.
Mon-Sat 10 am-5 pm Sun 11 am-6 pm
(The Mall)
Smithsonian (Blue and Orange lines), Archives-Navy Memorial (Green, Yellow lines), Judiciary Square (Red Line)
Free
202-737-4215
7/26 - 7/27

Shirley -- Visions of Reality

A narrative recreation of Edward Hopper's most famous paintings on screen by filmmaker Gustav Deutsch. At the Ground Floor Lecture Hall.
8/17

From the Library: Grega and Leo A. Daly III Fund for Architectural Books

Books assembled based on four themes: "City Planning and Improvements," "Studying the Masters," "Purpose Built" and "Architectural Details" will be on display.
7/30 - 8/17

Getting to Know Degas and Cassatt

The animated films introduce children to the artists. Best for age 4 and older.
7/26 - 8/31

Canyon Cinema 16 mm

A retrospective of avant-garde films from the influential San Francisco cinema non-profit. At the Ground floor lecture hall.
Through 9/1

The Monuments Men and the National Gallery of Art: Behind the History

A display of photographs from the World War II era, documents and memorabilia.
Through 9/26

In the Library: Documenting Loss and Preservation of Art and Architecture during the Second World War

Images from the Department of Image Collections at the National Gallery of Art Library reflect the dangers and loss of cultural patrimony during wars.
Through 10/5

Degas/Cassatt

An exhibition featuring around 70 pieces in a variety of media reveals the artistic connection between Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt.
Through 11/30

Andrew Wyeth: Looking Out, Looking In

Work by the artist including watercolors, drawings and tempera paintings are featured.
7/28 - 12/8

Ongoing exhibits:

A collection of 20th-century art.
Through 12/12

Masterpieces of American Furniture From the Kaufman Collection, 1700-1830

One of the largest collections of Early American furniture in private hands, acquired over the course of five decades by George M. and Linda H. Kaufman, is on display.
8/30 - 1/25/15

From the Library: The Book Illustrations by Romeyn de Hooghe

An exhibition highlighting the artist's work, which included etchings, decorative frontispieces and illustrated books.
2/2/15

Gun Crazy

Two love-struck criminals on the run from the law.
Through 3/11/17

Civic Pride: Dutch Group Portraits From Amsterdam

Rare depictions by Govert Flinck and Bartholomeus van der Helst of meetings inside the Kloveniersdoelen, the gathering place of one of Amsterdam's three militia companies.
Through 3/11/17

Civic Pride: Dutch Group Portraits From Amsterdam

Rare depictions of meetings inside the Kloveniersdoelen, the gathering place of one of Amsterdam's three militia companies, by Govert Flinck and Bartholomeus van der Helst.
'

Editorial Review

National Gallery of Art acquires dozens of new works

Paintings, sculpture, drawings and photographs span the 17th to the 21st centuries.

Carpe Diem seizes day
By Stephen Brookes
Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It’s not hard to design a crowd--pleasing string quartet recital. You open with Haydn, toss in a little Mendelssohn or Brahms (maybe Debussy, if you’re daring), build up to one of the heftier Beethoven quartets and call it a day. It’s far more difficult to find fresh, pathbreaking new works that show how vibrant the quartet form still is ---- and that leave audiences on their feet and shouting for more.

But that’s exactly what the aptly named Carpe Diem String Quartet did on Sunday night, in an adventurous and often breathtaking recital of modern music at the National Gallery of Art’s West Garden Court. Eclectic almost to a fault, the group ranged from jazz to Turkish dances to some of the hardest--hitting music of the 20th century, and built to a spectacular climax with the premiere of a quartet by composer Jonathan Leshnoff that was nothing less than exalting ---- a major addition to the string quartet repertoire.

The program opened and closed with some likable arrangements of the jazz standards “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” but far more exciting was a suite of five new dances by Erberk Eryilmaz. “Miniatures Set No. 4” is a swirling, dervish--like explosion of a work, full of Turkish folk rhythms and bluesy bent notes and sudden yelps and shouts from the players. The excitement continued with Bela Bartok’s equally volatile Fifth String Quartet from 1934, whose landscapes of slashing chords and windswept wildness were brought off with white--hot intensity.

The quartet’s violist, Korine Fujiwara, is a composer as well, and her 2010 work “Hands” proved an enjoyable and smile--filled work, awash in soaring melodies, snapping fingers and inventive ideas. But it was Leshnoff’s String Quartet No. 4 that was the real event of the evening. From a base of modest musical motives (inspired, in part, by a recorder recital at his daughter’s school), the quartet built with seamless logic into a vast, thoroughly beautiful and extraordinarily moving work, its juggernaut--like power balanced with a luminous, almost hymn--like sense of spirituality and grace. It is a masterpiece any way you look at it, and the Carpe Diem players ---- for whom the work was written ---- played it with the absolute commitment it deserved.

It’s not hard to design a crowd--pleasing string quartet recital. You open with Haydn, toss in a little Mendelssohn or Brahms (maybe Debussy, if you’re daring), build up to one of the heftier Beethoven quartets and call it a day. It’s far more difficult to find fresh, pathbreaking new works that show how vibrant the quartet form still is ---- and that leave audiences on their feet and shouting for more.

But that’s exactly what the aptly named Carpe Diem String Quartet did on Sunday night, in an adventurous and often breathtaking recital of modern music at the National Gallery of Art’s West Garden Court. Eclectic almost to a fault, the group ranged from jazz to Turkish dances to some of the hardest--hitting music of the 20th century, and built to a spectacular climax with the premiere of a quartet by composer Jonathan Leshnoff that was nothing less than exalting ---- a major addition to the string quartet repertoire.

The program opened and closed with some likable arrangements of the jazz standards “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo a la Turk,” but far more exciting was a suite of five new dances by Erberk Eryilmaz. “Miniatures Set No. 4” is a swirling, dervish--like explosion of a work, full of Turkish folk rhythms and bluesy bent notes and sudden yelps and shouts from the players. The excitement continued with Bela Bartok’s equally volatile Fifth String Quartet from 1934, whose landscapes of slashing chords and windswept wildness were brought off with white--hot intensity.

The quartet’s violist, Korine Fujiwara, is a composer as well, and her 2010 work “Hands” proved an enjoyable and smile--filled work, awash in soaring melodies, snapping fingers and inventive ideas. But it was Leshnoff’s String Quartet No. 4 that was the real event of the evening. From a base of modest musical motives (inspired, in part, by a recorder recital at his daughter’s school), the quartet built with seamless logic into a vast, thoroughly beautiful and extraordinarily moving work, its juggernaut--like power balanced with a luminous, almost hymn--like sense of spirituality and grace. It is a masterpiece any way you look at it, and the Carpe Diem players ---- for whom the work was written ---- played it with the absolute commitment it deserved.

Evoking mood of an artistic era
By Joan Reinthaler
Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The National Gallery of Art’s new exhibition is “Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes,” and, in its honor, pianist Michael Arnowitt has put together a beautifully thought--out program ---- a bits--and--pieces retrospective of what was going on musically about 1913, when the past, present and future vied for position. He played it at the gallery Sunday with an exquisite sense of touch, color and musical imagination.

To watch Arnowitt as he plays, sitting quietly at the keyboard, you might expect soulless music--making, but you could not be more wrong. He doesn’t go for cheap effects. He listens intently. His dynamics are calculated for their context, his music moves with tantalizing inevitability, and he produces the most rewardingly supple lines.

Acoustically, the gallery’s West Garden Court might not be the easiest venue for pianists, but Arnowitt found ways to make even the lush textures of the opening movement of the Rachmaninoff Sonata No. 2 in B--flat Minor sound clean and focused without sacrificing urgency or passion. Three of Debussy’s Book 2 Preludes trickled off the keys with shadings of dynamics that were almost imperceptible but perfectly satisfying. And both the humor of Satie’s in--your--face “Embryons Desseches,” or “Dessicated Embryos” (performed while pianist Jeffrey Chappell narrated musings on the piece), and the dark foreboding of Leo Ornstein’s “Suicide in an Airplane” emerged full of character.

The evening’s highlight was a glowingly gentle, sonorous reading of the Alcott movement from Ives’s “Concord” Sonata, which began reflectively and built almost imperceptibly to a intricate sketch of a complex New England personality.

The concert’s smashing finale was a technically brilliant and musically convincing performance of Arnowitt’s arrangement of the first half of “The Rite of Spring.” More orchestral than pianistic, it conjured up, almost eerily, sounds of woodwinds, percussion and all the rest. Stravinsky arranged this for two pianos, and that arrangement is a technical stretch. Pulling it off solo was an impressive tour de force.

The applause was loud and long, but, wisely, Arnowitt did not play an encore. What could follow the Stravinsky?

The National Gallery of Art’s new exhibition is “Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes” and, in its honor, pianist Michael Arnowitt has put together a beautifully thought--out program ---- a bits--and--pieces retrospective of what was going on musically about 1913, when the past, present and future vied for position. He played it at the gallery Sunday with an exquisite sense of touch, color and musical imagination.

To watch Arnowitt as he plays, sitting quietly at the keyboard, you might expect soulless music--making, but you could not be more wrong. He doesn’t go for cheap effects. He listens intently. His dynamics are calculated for their particular context, his music moves with tantalizing inevitability, and he produces the most rewardingly supple lines.

Acoustically, the gallery’s West Garden Court might not be the easiest venue for pianists, but Arnowitt found ways to make even the lush textures of the opening movement of the Rachmaninoff Sonata No. 2 in B--flat Minor sound clean and focused without sacrificing urgency or passion. Three of Debussy’s Book 2 Preludes trickled off the keys with shadings of dynamics that were almost imperceptible but perfectly satisfying. And both the humor of Satie’s in--your--face “Embryons Desseches,” or “Dessicated Embryos” (performed while pianist Jeffrey Chappell narrated musings on the piece), and the dark foreboding of Leo Ornstein’s “Suicide in an Airplane” emerged full of character.

The evening’s highlight was a glowingly gentle, sonorous reading of the Alcott movement from Ives’s “Concord” Sonata, which began reflectively and built almost imperceptibly to a intricate sketch of a complex New England personality.

The concert’s smashing finale was a technically brilliant and musically convincing performance of Arnowitt’s arrangement of the first half of “The Rite of Spring.” More orchestral than pianistic, it conjured up, almost eerily, sounds of woodwinds, percussion and all the rest. Stravinsky arranged this for two pianos, and that arrangement is a technical stretch. Pulling it off solo was an impressive tour de force.

The applause was loud and long but, wisely, Arnowitt did not play an encore. What could follow the Stravinsky?

The Buzz: A permanent collection of more than 100,000 art objects resides in the museum's two buildings. The West Building, designed in 1941 by architect John Russell Pope, houses paintings, sculpture and graphic arts from as far back as the Middle Ages. The bright and airy East Building, designed by I.M. Pei, exhibits 20th- and 21st-century art.

The Collections: A highlight of the East Building is the large Alexander Calder mobile that hangs from the ceiling directly over the lobby. Also on view in this building are works by Georgia O'Keeffe, Jackson Pollock and Louise Bourgeois. The West Building holds a Leonardo da Vinci portrait of Ginevra de Benci, the only da Vinci work outside of Europe. Paintings by the French impressionists and more than 900 works of sculpture are also on display.

Programs: Most weekends, the museum screens films in its East Building Auditorium. Works on view include off-beat art house films, foreign works and children's films. Lunchtime art history lectures are scheduled nearly every week. The popular Jazz in the Garden series takes over the museum's Sculpture Garden on Friday evenings in the summer. Sunday evening concerts take place in the West Building during the rest of the year.

Extras: Three cafes are spread between the two buildings and there is one in the Sculpture Garden. During the winter months, the Sculpture Garden's ice skating rink is a popular spot for dates and families with children.

(Updated Feb. 14, 2012)

At NGA, individually expert musicians lack clarity in unison

Cellist Peter Hoerr and pianist Henri Sigfridsson seemed not to be quite on the same page Sunday night.