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Paper + People is a blog about the Smith College Museum of Art’s collection of over 18,000 prints, drawings, and photographs. Here you will find a diverse array of posts written by museum staff, students, scholars, and other paper enthusiasts about anything pertaining to the collection.

Any works you see featured here are available to view by appointment.

  • Wednesday, September 9, 2015


    Guest blogger Maggie Kurkoski was the 2013-2015 Post-Baccalaureate Curatorial Fellow at the Smith College Museum of Art.

    Henry Spencer Moore, English (1898 - 1986). Ideas for Sculpture: Internal and External Forms, study for the sculpture Internal and External forms, 1948. Recto: brush with watercolor and gouache, black, red and blue wax crayons, black Indian ink and gray ink on smooth beige wove paper. Verso: graphite. Purchased. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1952:64

    Henry Spencer Moore is best known for his monumental sculpture, but his two-dimensional work is likewise compelling. Sometimes he created them as finished works, as is the case with Prométhée, or his haunting ‘Shelter Drawings.’ He also sketched out his ideas for sculptures before he realized them in the flesh, so to speak.

    Detail of Internal and External Forms

    The drawing above is one such study. Henry Moore is playing around with new and different ideas for sculpture, all circling around the idea of internal forms and external forms. The shapes are abstract—they do not seem to represent any known object or person.

    Detail of Internal and External Forms

    Detail of Internal and External Forms

    Still, they are evocative of bigger ideas. About these works, Henry Moore said:

    “I have done other sculptures based on this idea of one form being protected by another. These are some of the helmets I did in 1939 in which the interior of the helmet is really a figure and the outside casing of it is like the armour by which it might be protected in battle. I suppose in my mind was also the Mother and Child idea and of birth and the child in embryo. All these things are connected in this interior and exterior idea.”

    Detail of Internal and External Forms

    This study was not created as a stand-alone work, and Moore went on to create many physical Internal/External Forms in wood and bronze. That said, the drawing is more than a diagram for other works. Bright pops of red, yellow and green stand out against a mostly gray surface, unlike the earth tones of his sculpture. Lines run along each form to define the contour of its surface. The composition is balanced. It’s really a work of art in its own right.

    Detail of Internal and External Forms

    The drawing first caught my eye as I was researching another series by Moore, the lithographs he produced for the artist’s book Prométhée. Do you recognize those shapes?

    Henry Spencer Moore. English (1898 - 1986). Pandora from Promethée, 1950. Lithograph on paper. Purchased. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1951:277-11

    Selections from Prométhée are currently on view in the Museum, recently moved to a third floor Works on Paper cabinet. It will remain on view through mid-September 2015.


  • Thursday, September 3, 2015

    Your claim to frame.

    Lorraine O'Grady. American, born 1934. Art Is…(Women in Crowd Framed). 1983 (printed 2009). C-print. Purchased with the Dorothy C. Miller, class of 1925, Fund. SC 2014:8-2

    It's time for the Student Picks Sweepstakes again! Every year, six Smith students get the chance to curate a one-day show at the Museum, using works from our very own Works on Paper collection. No application necessary--just fill out a ballot and you're good to go.

    Who is eligible to apply?

    All Smithies are encouraged to apply, regardless of class year or major. (And you can apply as many times as you like!) You don't need any prior art history, museum, or curating experience, since the staff at the Cunningham center will guide you through the entire process.

    The sweepstakes goes on until September 25--winners will be contacted around the end of September. Ballot boxes are available in Neilson Library, the Museum lobby and the Campus Center. You can also apply online through this Google form

    What kinds of art can be used?

    Anything from the over 18,000 objects in the Works on Paper Collection! This includes prints, drawings, and photographs from the past 500 years from all over the world. Students are able to bring their own personal interests an experiences to the process, and give life to the collection in really new and exciting ways! In the past year alone, we've had shows on exoticism and colonialism, witches, containment in architecture, collage, sarcasm and visual protest, and water photography.

     Visitors discussing Niyati Dave '15's show, Camera Exotica: Clichés, Counter-Narratives and Cultural Clashes

    When and where do shows go up?

    Student Picks shows are the first Friday of every month during the academic year. They run from 12-4pm and are located in the Cunningham Center. And be sure to see our first Student Picks show of the year, which is coming up Friday, October 2! It'll be curated by Yu Yan '18, who was chosen during last year's Sweepstakes.

    Good luck, and we're so excited to be working with you!


  • Wednesday, August 26, 2015

    “Art Defeats Oven”

    Guest blogger Maggie Kurkoski was the Brown Post-Baccalaureate Curatorial Fellow at the Smith College Museum of Art from 2013-2015.

    This piece includes works from the The Gladys Engel Lang and Kurt Lang Collection, a collection of prints which was recently donated to the Museum.

    Emil Ganso, American (1895 - 1941). At the Sea Shore, 1932. Wood engraving in black on lightweight, smooth, beige paper. The Gladys Engel Lang and Kurt Lang Collection. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2014:32-281

    Born in 1895 in Halberstadt, Germany, Emil Ganso showed an early talent for art. His mother bought him paints and encouraged his potential, and at fourteen the local pastor arranged for Ganso to be apprenticed to a lithography studio. Despite the clergyman’s help, Ganso’s family was too poor to pay for the room and board, and so Ganzo was forced to give up this early opportunity.

    Ganso was instead apprenticed to a baker, with limited success: lacking natural talent in the kitchen, he was eventually fired for his inconsistent baking. After he had been hired and then fired by many of Halberstadt’s bakeries, Ganso took a job as a dishwasher for a trans-Atlantic shipping company. It was at the end of his sixth journey across the ocean that Ganso decided to disembark in the United States, seventeen years old and a penniless immigrant who spoke no English.

    When Ganso was unable to take on any full-time employment, he began taking on shifts in bakeries to make ends meet. These grueling shifts lasted as long as fourteen hours, sometimes more on the weekends. Despite his exhausting schedule, Ganso made a point of attending classes at the National Academy of Design when he could, although sometimes he could barely keep his eyes open: as he later put it, “Just imagine me falling asleep with a nice nude model right in front of me!”

    Emil Ganso, American (1895 - 1941). The Bathers, 1951. Wood engraving in black on medium thick, rough, cream-colored paper. Bequest of Henry Latimer Seaver. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2011:26-32

    Detail of The Bathers

    In 1917, Ganso was renting a room above a brothel with his friend and fellow artist Jan Matulka. Soon labor reforms had reduced his bakery shifts to a mere eight hours a day, and he used that time to work on his art.

    Emil Ganso, American (1895 - 1941). Reclining Nude, 1939. Charcoal in black and brown. Gift of the estate of Agnes M. Newborg (Agnes Morgenthau, class of 1914). Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 1972:14-3

    Around this period, Ganso began to experiment with etching, having found an abandoned printing press in his apartment building. Slowly, his artistic reputation grew, but it was not until 1925 that he felt comfortable enough to quit his day job, coinciding with his first show at the Weyhe Gallery.

    The show gained considerable media attention, in large part due to Ganzo’s previous employment: The New York Evening Post titled their review of the exhibition “Art Defeats Oven: Baker Will Paint.”

    Emil Ganso, American (1895 - 1941). Hilda 1, 1929. Aquatint and etching in brown tones on medium weight, slightly textured, cream-colored paper. The Gladys Engel Lang and Kurt Lang Collection. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2014:32-280

    In the following decades, Ganso continued to grow and develop as an artist and, eventually, as a teacher of art at the University of Iowa. In April 1941, however, a fatal heart attack cut his life short. He had just turned forty-six.

    Carl Zigrosser, an art historian and friend, said this about Ganso’s passing: “He cared little for social prestige, fame as such, political and social questions. He wanted above all to make pictures, to render concrete his ideal world in terms of ink and pigment… His death is a great loss to those who knew him. But his work endures for all the world to enjoy.”