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January Art Preview

This month features Annie Leibovitz at American Art Museum and Picasso at the National Gallery, plus plenty more.

Niagara Falls is just one of the historic locations featured in the exhibition “Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage,” at the American Art Museum January 20. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.


Mark your calendars for “Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage,” which opens at the American Art Museum January 20. Leibovitz is probably (definitely?) America’s most famous portrait photographer, but in her latest project, Pilgrimage, you won’t see a single shot of a living person. In between magazine work, Leibovitz traveled around the world shooting images of historic locations, from Niagara Falls to Graceland to Georgia O’Keefe’s home. The resulting photos, which she likens to a scrapbook, and which were published last year in book form, are much less polished than her portraits, but no less powerful. The exhibition, made up of 70 photographs, runs through May 20. And keep an eye out next week for our interview with Leibovitz about the project. More at

The second can’t-miss show for January is “Picasso’s Drawings, 1890–1921: Reinventing Tradition,” which opens in the National Gallery’s West Building January 29 following a three-month stint at the Frick and offers the chance to see some of Picasso’s earliest works. Starting from 1890 (when the artist was nine) and proceeding through his late thirties, the show displays Picasso’s prodigious early talent for drawing, and the experimentation and innovation that fostered the birth of cubism. Through May 6;

There are two other quirky shows worth seeking out at the National Gallery in January: “In the Library: Marks of Ownership,” ( which runs January 9 through April 27; and “The Baroque Genius of Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione,” which is on display January 29 through July 8. The first—which will undoubtedly appeal to book nerds everywhere—is an exhibition of early bookplates, which were introduced around the time of the first Gutenberg printing press in the 15th century. The second is a pretty comprehensive selection of engravings and drawings by Genoan artist Castiglione, one of the pioneers of monotyping. More at

Opening January 7 at the National Museum of Natural History is “The Beautiful Time,” an exhibition of photographs and video by Congolese artist Sammy Baloji. Baloji juxtaposes old photos with modern images to reveal the Democratic Republic of Congo’s rich heritage and troubled present. Through 2012;


Continuing at Transformer through January 28 is “Lily deSaussure: Double Dare Ya,” featuring hand-embroidered images by the DC-based artist, whose work was featured along with six other locals in a New York show at the Dorian Grey Gallery last year (back when Adrian Parsons was better known as an artist than as a hunger striker). In the site-specific Transformer works, deSaussure embroiders images of family, ex boyfriends, and herself onto paper in a fusion of old and new techniques. More at

Solas Nua presents “Aoife Collins: Tickling the Ivories” at Flashpoint, January 6 through February 4. The local organization, whose mission is to showcase Irish culture throughout the US, this month focuses on Collins, a London-based Irish artist who dismantles found objects (artificial flowers, pearls) and re-creates them to explore femininity, culture, and social mores. Collins will appear in person at Flashpoint January 12;

Opening January 19 at Artisphere is “Amy Hughes Braden: Too Extroverted to Paint.” Braden, an Arlington native and recent Corcoran grad, paints large-scale portraits of tweens in Technicolor, exploring the awkwardness and insecurity of youth. Through March 11;



“The Great American Hall of Wonders” closes January 8 at the American Art Museum. More at

Also closing January 8 at the Phillips Collection is “Degas’s Dancers at the Barre: Point and Counterpoint.”  More at Read our review of the show here.

And at the Textile Museum, “Second Lives: The Age-Old Art of Recycling Textiles” also closes January 8. More at

“In Line/ Out of Line” closes at Heiner Contemporary January 14;

The remarkable “Andy Warhol: Shadows” closes January 15 at the Hirshhorn; read our review here. More at

At the National Museum of Women in the Arts, it’s your last chance to see two short-lived shows: “Visions of the Orient: Western Women Artists in Asia,” and “TROVE: The Collection In Depth,” both of which end January 15;

“Family Matters: Portraits from the Qing Court” closes January 16 at the Sackler Gallery;

And January 16 is also your last chance to catch two fascinating photography shows at the Corcoran: “Hank Willis Thomas: Strange Fruit,” and “Gordon Parks: Photographs from the Collection.” Luckily “30 Americans,” which these shows ran alongside, continues through February 12;



This month’s Phillips After 5 is January 5, and is themed around French cabaret.

The National Gallery screens Alan Schneider’s 1961 film Waiting for Godot , preceded by Samuel Beckett’s Film , in the East Building Auditorium January 8.

Artist Kara Walker (whose work is currently on display in “30 Americans” and “Multiplicity” at the American Art Museum) discusses Andy Warhol at the Hirshhorn January 11.

January 19, the Phillips screens Lust for Life Vincente Minnelli’s stellar biopic of Vincent van Gogh, starring Kirk Douglas as the tortured Dutch artist and Anthony Quinn as Gauguin.

Nick Cave (the artist, not the Australian Bad Seed) discusses his work at the Corcoran January 8.

And finally, Deborah Willis, chair of photography and imaging at New York University, artist, mother of Hank Willis Thomas, and author of Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present,signs copies of her book at the National Portrait Gallery January 18. Look out for Willis in a dual exhibition with her son at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts next month.

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