Review of the Graphic Masters III at the American Art Museum

I want credit for my good taste, is the unspoken rule of collecting art (and books, and DVDs, and forming opinions about such objects). And an art collection that's thoughtful and well chosen, is special not only because it's aesthetically pleasing, but because it forms a mini autobiography. I adore the print of the Saul Steinberg New Yorker cover I purchased at Eastern Market along with that old 1950s advertisement framed in the bathroom, and the Woodzianski painting I won in a scavenger hunt, and my Andy Moon Wilson business card, and the "Understand Modern Art Breath Spray" I purchased at a gallery in Bethesda whose name I forget but that I first saw the artist in the Palais de Tokyo gift shop in Paris, and the three framed drawings I did awhile ago, the presentation of which my asshole well-meaning friend insulted at a party. I like that there are little bits of information behind these pieces, meaningful to me, but nothing that would be of much interest to anyone else. And although this is far less flattering to admit, I see these objects as bragging rights of sorts--even though I had no involvement in their creation. I've done nothing but acquire this art, yet still think highly of myself for doing so, much in the same way a good book will look great on your shelf ("Look! I am the sort of person who appreciates the nuances of both Harry Potter and Richard Yates!"). Of course it's unfair to take credit for your opinions, because you just have them, without really trying, but I (and I'm sure others) still cling to the idea that the cultural things we enjoy are positive reflections of our characters.

There is a show at the Smithsonian American Art Museum now called Graphic Masters III, a title which tells you very little--it consists of drawings on paper, some of which were studies for larger works. But it contains some fantastic pieces; a still life of a cat by Saul Steinberg (because it's Saul Steinberg, this is far more interesting than it sounds) and a drawing of the New York subway by Paul Cadmus wherein he strove to capture ugly people, and an exquisite profile of a nude girl wearing an animal skull of her head by John Wilde. It is a very quiet show, but nonetheless fantastic, and I think everyone should go see it, appreciate the brilliance of the work, consider how good my taste in art is, and reflect upon the knowledge that had it not been for me, you never would've found this treasure of an exhibition in our fine city. You're welcome.