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Graphic Masters II: Highlights from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, celebrates the extraordinary variety and accomplishment of American artists' works on paper drawn exclusively from the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Exceptional watercolors, pastels, and drawings reveal the importance of works on paper—both as studies for creations in other media and as finished works of art. Watercolors capture the light and color of nature, while pastels allow artists to draw directly in color, blurring traditional distinctions between drawing and painting. Bold drawings include designs for stage sets, book illustrations, and studies for paintings.

Drawings often reveal greater immediacy and experimentation than paintings and sculpture. Preparatory sketches can be spontaneous creations that reveal the artist's thought processes and working methods. Even when works on paper are larger and more finished, competing in scale with easel paintings, they retain a sense of the artist's hand. This installation includes works from early to mid-twentieth century by artists such as Edward Hopper, Stuart Davis, William H. Johnson, John Steuart Curry, Jacob Lawrence, and Sam Francis.

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Smithsonian American Art Museum