Marian Anderson with Harold L. Ickes (Secretary of the Interior)

Marian Anderson Photo Archives

The African American opera singer made history with a stirring concert at the Lincoln Memorial. But there was much more to Marian Anderson.
An exhibition of Damage Control by John Baldessari

Why John Baldessari Burned His Own Art

The artist's "Cremation Project" of 1970 marked a liberation from the tradition of painting and a step toward a more encompassing vision.
Travels through Virginia. [From Theodor de Bry's 'America', Vol. I, 1590, after a drawing of John White].

The Construction of America, in the Eyes of the English

In Theodor de Bry’s illustrations for Thomas Harriot’s Brief and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, the Algonquin are made to look like the Irish. Surprise.
Jacob Lawrence and one of his paintings

How American Artists Have Portrayed Haiti

In the early 20th century, African American artists created work that expressed solidarity with Haiti--whether they had been there or not.
Plaster face casts by Anna Coleman Ladd

How Masks of Mutilated WWI Soldiers Haunted Postwar Culture

In the age before plastic surgery, masks were the best option for veterans with faces scarred by war. The end results, however, were somewhat uncanny.
Vintage engraving from 1876 of a old victorian haunted house.

How Victorian Mansions Became the Default Haunted House

Quick: Picture a haunted house. It's probably a Victorian mansion, right? Here's how these structures became signifiers of horror, haunting, and death.

The American Art Style that Idolized the Machine

Precisionism, a modernist art style that emerged in the early 20th century, glorified the machine age, all but erasing the presence of people.
Whaling painting

Did North America’s Longest Painting Inspire Moby-Dick?

Herman Melville likely saw the panorama “Whaling Voyage,” which records the sinking of the whaler Essex, while staying in Boston in 1849.

Edward S. Curtis: Romance vs. Reality

In a famous 1910 photograph "In a Piegan Lodge," a small clock appears between two seated Native American men. In a later print, the clock is missing.
Graceland facade

Was Graceland Elvis’ Greatest Aesthetic Masterpiece?

When you think of the aesthetic life of Elvis Presley, you probably think of the gaudy glitz of Graceland. But what did the tacky décor really mean?