At the Phillips Collection, “David Smith Invents”—the first local show of the American abstract-expressionist sculptor’s work in 25 years—looks at the artist’s career, from his geometric sculptures to a number of paintings and drawings. Running at the same time is “Philip Guston: Roma,” which features nearly 40 paintings from Guston’s residency at the American Academy in Rome. The colorful expressionist paintings evolved in response to the masterpieces that Guston found in the Italian capital as well as his disappointment over poor reviews from the New York art establishment. February 12 through May 15. Admission to both exhibits is $12, students and seniors $10.
“Artists in Dialogue II,” at the National Museum of African Art, features new site-specific pieces by Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira and South African Sandile Zulu, each of whose work is intended to comment on the other’s. Oliveira’s large-scale installations recycle discarded plywood; Zulu scavenges organic materials to create his precisely patterned works. February 2 through December 4.
“Close to Home: Photographers and Their Families,” at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, shows work by nine photographers who turned the lens on their loved ones, including New York photographer Tina Barney and Washingtonian Muriel Hasbun. February 4 through July 24.
“Second Lives: The Age-Old Art of Recycling Textiles,” at the Textile Museum, looks at the creative reuse of fabrics in different cultures, from a 15th-century Chinese rank badge (worn by government officials) to a 19th-century Japanese coat. Suggested donation $5. February 4 through January 8.
“America I Am: The African American Imprint,” at the National Geographic Museum, examines 500 years of African-American contributions to the United States. Included are the “bill of sale” certifying Frederick Douglass’s freedom as well as Malcolm X’s Koran. February 2 through May 1. Admission $12.
The Hirshhorn Museum hosts a retrospective of German abstract painter Blinky Palermo. The exhibit features his monochromatic cloth pictures and wall paintings as well as his monumental installation “To the People of New York City.” February 24 through May 15.
To commemorate the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, the National Museum of American History is displaying nine photographs that Richard Avedon took of the late President and his family 50 years ago, none of which have been previously displayed since the museum acquired them in 1966. Images include a serene Jackie Kennedy cradling her infant son and an adorable snapshot of three-year-old Caroline. The exhibition, which also includes some of Avedon’s original contact sheets, runs through February 28.
It’s the last chance to see the National Portrait Gallery’s now-infamous exhibition, “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” before it closes February 13. Despite the furor that erupted when a conservative publication took umbrage over one of the exhibition’s more controversial elements, the show was called “fascinating” and “full of tragedy” by the Washington Post’s former art critic, Blake Gopnik.
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