FOR AMERICA Lee Smith Hughie Self Portrait
Hughie Lee-Smith, Self-Portrait, 1964; Oil on canvas; National Academy of Design, New York

For America: Paintings from the National Academy of Design

Jul 19, 2020 - Jul 27, 2020

Presented by: Presented by The Joe Orgill Family Fund for Exhibitions

Organized by the American Federation of Arts and the National Academy of Design.
Support for the national tour is provided by the JFM Foundation, Monique Schoen Warshaw, and Steph & Jody La Nasa.

Founded in 1825 by a group of forward-thinking individuals, the National Academy of Design has a simple yet powerful mission: to provide means for the training of artists and the promotion and exhibition of their art. Since its founding, the Academy has upheld a rule from its first constitution: any elected National Academician must donate a work of art to the Academy’s collection. In 1839, the Academy decided that any individual nominated to the preceding rank of Associate National Academician must also present a portrait of themselves for the collection, whether painted by their own hand or that of a fellow artist. Such gifts of “diploma works” and “diploma portraits” are the defining feature of the Academy’s collection and the focus of this exhibition.

Over the decades, these submissions have grown into a distinctive collection of American art that today includes nearly every major American artist. For America: Paintings from the National Academy of Design is the first exhibition to highlight this pivotal aspect of the collection—the joint presentation of an artist’s portrait with his or her diploma work. In showcasing artists’ portraits alongside representative works from their own hand, this exhibition provides a stunning opportunity to consider the ways in which a group of American artists have viewed themselves and their peers for the past two centuries. Featuring one hundred paintings, For America presents not only a visual document of the Academy’s membership but a singular history of American painting from 1809 to the present as told by its makers.

Sponsored by: Karen and Preston Dorsett | Anne and Mike Keeney | Nancy and Steve Morrow Ann M. Mullis | Gwen and Penn Owen | Chris and Dan Richards Trish and Carl Ring | Barbara and Lewis Williamson