1000 Heads: the book

1000 heads, my illustration book

Inspiring books for the creative type


Visual Thinking : Sketchbooks exhibition

Sketchbooks hold the essence of an artist’s work and his or her creativity in its purest form. There is a remarkable online exhibition called Visual Thinking - Curator's Choice in the Smithsonian Institute website for Archives of American Art.

Sketchbooks in the Archives of American Art form a vast repository of ideas, perceptions, inspirational imagery, and graphic experiments. As personal records they afford an intimate glimpse of an artist's visual thinking and reveal aspects of their creative process. Sketchbooks are as varied as the artists who keep them. Social realist painter Reginald Marsh cut and bound scraps of paper to fit the size of his coat pocket. Avant-garde advocate John Graham snatched moments in a busy career to doodle in a leatherbound diary. Albert Kahn copied architectural details and patterns for future projects, and Oscar Bluemner kept painting diaries with copious notes on his color theories.

This selection of sketchbooks demonstrates the broad range of material available for research at the Archives of American Art from academic notebooks with anatomical studies to illustrated journals, ranging in date from the 1840s to the 1970s. A must-see, definitely!

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