SAM Art: When is a urinal not just a urinal?


Urinal, 1984, Robert Gober, American, born 1954, wood, wire, plaster and enamel paint, 30 x 20 x 20 in., Gift of the Virginia and Bagley Wright Collection, in honor of the 75th Anniversary of the Seattle Art Museum, 2014.25.24, © Robert Gober. Currently on view in the modern and contemporary art galleries, third floor, Seattle Art Museum.


In 1917 Marcel Duchamp, using the fictitious name “R. Mutt,” submitted Fountain—a factory-made men’s urinal—to the first exhibition of the American Society of Independent Artists. After heated discussion, the work was rejected from the exhibition. But the event, with Duchamp’s brash challenge to basic assumptions about art, reverberated through the 20th century and beyond. At the most basic level, the artist asked what makes a work of art? Duchamp asserted that the artistic concept was more important than traditional notions of skill, craft or beauty.

As opposed to the found fixture of Fountain, Robert Gober’s Urinal is hand-made. With this action, he turns Duchamp’s object back into a sculpture, a psychologically suggestive form suggestive of a human body.



Show your Seahawks support this Friday, and join Hammering Man as he transforms into the 12th Man! For the third year in a row, we’ll be honoring our hometown team by projecting the number 12 on Hammering Man by artist Jonathan Borofsky.

Wear your Seahawks gear to the museum tomorrow and get in for free!

At 6 pm, we’ll light up the 48-foot Hammering Man at 1st Ave and University St with the number 12.


Image: Joshua Trujillo/

SAM Art: Celebrate MLK with SAM

Martin Luther King, 2003, Ross Palmer Beecher, American, born 1957, mixed media, 21 ½ x 10 ½ x 3 ½ in., Mark Tobey Estate Fund, 2003.62, © Ross Palmer Beecher.

Martin Luther King, 2003, Ross Palmer Beecher, American, born 1957, mixed media, 21 ½ x 10 ½ x 3 ½ in., Mark Tobey Estate Fund, 2003.62, © Ross Palmer Beecher.

On Monday, we mark the 30th Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We invite you to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy with SAM.

Visit our galleries every day through Monday—installations currently on view include works that explore what it means to fight for your rights, what it means to write your own history, what it means to dream, and what it means to be an American.

SAM staff members lead special tours on the theme of social justice every day through Monday. Please join us!

SAM Art for Paris

  Chez Mondrian, Paris, 1926, Andre Kertesz, American, 1894-1985, gelatin silver photograph, image 9 3/4 x 7 1/2 in., Gift of Dr. R. Joseph Monsen and Dr. Elaine R. Monsen, 81.99

Chez Mondrian, Paris, 1926, Andre Kertesz, American, 1894-1985, gelatin silver photograph, image 9 3/4 x 7 1/2 in., Gift of Dr. R. Joseph Monsen and Dr. Elaine R. Monsen, 81.99

Our thoughts are with the people of France and the great city of Paris






Teens Make The Change They Want To See In Their Neighborhood

This fall Seattle Art Museum’s innovative art and design program Design Your ‘Hood (DYH), is joining Seattle’s Park and Recreation Department for a series of teen workshops through December 20 where high school students learn to be design-thinkers and change-makers by exploring visual art, architecture, design software, urban planning and social activism.

The intensive multi-session workshops are focused on visual art, design, and community change. Students receive hands-on experience and become change-makers within their community by exploring architecture, design software, urban planning, and social activism.

This season, SAM has tailored the DYH project for Seattle’s Park and Recreation Department’s Youth Employment and Service Learning Program (YES). This program focuses on providing hands-on experiences for youth that will allow them to develop well-rounded skills, especially in terms of job readiness.

YES students have an opportunity to search for, identify and examine free youth arts opportunities in Seattle and create a space using models that they propose and design.

As part of the program, students participate in a series of field trips around the city to investigate art and design strategies. These experiences have been designed to inspire teens in their own design work as well as expose them to the diversity of professional art and design practices.

The workshop features community partnerships with Seattle Architecture Foundation, Bassetti Architects, The Wing Luke Museum, The Beacon, The International District, Panama Hotel, Olympic Sculpture Park, The Bullitt Center, Asian Art Museum, Volunteer Park and Amanda Bryan Architect.

These organizations lead tours, facilitate discussions, and provide tutorials and workspace for the youth designers. They are able to utilize the expertise of professional designers and development officials to make informed decisions about their own projects.

All of this will come to an exciting conclusion on December. 20, where students will articulate their proposals through a presentation, showcasing their process, design and 3-D models at the Miller Community Center with an awards ceremony following.

–Bianca Sewake, Seattle Art Museum Communication’s Intern


Uo Zukushi Ayu Tenpo by Andō Hiroshige (Volume 1)

Books on Ukiyo-e from the Russell Estate

The McCaw Foundation Library at the Asian Art Museum recently received a generous gift from the estate of Harry A. Russell.  Mr. Russell, a native of the New York City, was an aficionado of Ukioy-e, a style of Japanese woodblock print. His collection of books on the subject includes an extensive encyclopedia of prints, many exhibition catalogues, and several guides for the preservation of Ukioy-e prints. Xiaojin Wu, SAM’s Curator of Japanese and Korean Art, accepted the donation on behalf of the library from members of the Russell family.

These donated books contain a wealth of rich pictorial content, as evidenced in these images from Genshoku Ukiyoe Daihyakka Jiten = Color Illustrated Encyclopedia of  Ukiyo-e (Tokyo: Taishukan Shoten, c1981):


Uo Zukushi Ayu Tenpo by Andō Hiroshige (Volume 1)

Uo Zukushi Ayu Tenpo by Andō Hiroshige (Vol. 1)

Kenyu Hujo Ooiko by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (Volume 9)

Kenyu Hujo Ooiko by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (Vol. 9)

Ukioy-e is a type of woodblock print that became popular in Japan during the Edo period (16th– 19th centuries). The colorful figures and landscapes depicted in the crisp, rich colors of these prints created a substantial surge in the popularity of Japanese art at home and abroad. The influence of Ukiyo-e can be seen in western art styles such as Impressionism and Art Nouveau.


Amerika Yokohama Honmura Honmakido by Andō Hiroshige (Volume 9) Print depicts an American woman wearing an Indian bonnet on a horse.

Amerika Yokohama Honmura Honmakido by Andō Hiroshige (Vol. 9)
Print depicts an American woman wearing an Indian bonnet on a horse.

Musashi Nono Tsuki, from the series 月百姿 Moon Hundred Gesture by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Volume 9) Yoshitoshi brough one wolf to the vast field of Mushashino.  The wolf sees his reflection on the surface of water.  Yoshita expresses the loneliness of the wolf.

Musashi Nono Tsuki, from the series 月百姿 Moon Hundred Gesture by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Vol. 9)
Yoshitoshi brough one wolf to the vast field of Mushashino. The wolf sees his reflection on the surface of water. Yoshita expresses the loneliness of the wolf.

Shoshin by Tanaka Kyoukichi (Volume 1)

Shoshin by Tanaka Kyoukichi (Vol. 1)

Yueh-Lin Chen, Associate Librarian at the McCaw Foundation Library, is working with volunteers to catalogue the Russell donation. The titles will be easily retrieved by searching for “Harry A. Russell” through a keyword search in the SAM Research Libraries’ online catalogue (OPAC). A catalogue search for “Ukioy-e” will bring up many books about the general genre of Ukioy-e, as well as books about the ways Ukioy-e has influenced western art.

We would like to thank the Russell family for this generous donation.

– Yoshiko Boley and Kate Nack, McCaw Foundation Library Volunteers

These and many other books about Asian art are available for consultation in the McCaw Foundation Library for Asian Art, located on the lower level of the Asian Art Museum. Library hours are Thursday and Friday from 2:00 – 5:00 pm, and Saturday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Teen Night Out

One Night Only: Teens Take Over SAM!

What better way to end the year than with a banging celebration? The Seattle Art Museum is hosting its popular Teen Night Out this Friday, December 5—an action-packed night of live music, art-making workshops, and art tours—just for teens.

You can dance the night away to DJs and bands in Seattle, including a headline performance from the all-female surf rock group, La Luz. Wander around on an art tour to see all of SAM’s collection, including the two featured exhibitions. Pop Departures is an electrifying bold collection of pop art commentary on American culture over the last 50 years with works from iconic artists such as Andy Warhol.

City Dwellers: Contemporary Art from India showcases the many complex influences behind Indian’s urban culture through photos and sculptures, .

Seattle’s hottest contemporary artists will lead fun art making workshops based on the two exhibitions. Have your face painted to look like one of Roy Lichtenstein paintings, complete with a speech bubble or get your hands painted with beautiful henna designs.

You can also create your own art, which will be made into a collage that will be on display at the Teen Center at the Seattle Central Public Library.

The best part? That’s just the beginning and the entire event is free! You don’t even have to register.

So join us for an unforgettable night!

-Bianca Sewake, Seattle Art Museum Communication’s Intern

National Gallery

Pictures and Words: National Gallery by Frederick Wiseman

One of the abiding pleasures of my job is that I get to spend so much time in museums—not just the Seattle Art Museum, but great institutions throughout Europe and the United States. That’s where I spend my business trips, and many vacations too. Working in a museum, I am familiar with the teamwork and myriad decisions that go into creating collection installations and exhibitions. Now a gorgeous new film, Frederick Wiseman’s National Gallery (playing December 5-11 at the Northwest Film Forum), invites viewers to watch the activity behind the scenes at one of the finest collections of European art in the world, London’s National Gallery.

Wiseman edited down hundreds of hours filmed on-site to craft a paean to the art of looking. We observe masterpiece after masterpiece–close-up, within the grand architecture of the galleries, and unframed in the attic conservation studio. We observe people—the professional staff of the Gallery, which includes the director Nicholas Penny, curators, educators, marketing specialists, scientists, framers, conservators, art handlers, maintenance staff—as well as studious visitors who scrutinize these paintings looking for answers or just marveling at the talents of great artists of the past.

In contrast to many documentaries, there is no narration, no interviews, and no identification of the speakers. We take a fly-on-the-wall position and watch the business of the museum unfold in a non-hierarchical way. The closest thing to a dramatic crisis is a series of conversations among museum staff about whether the august Gallery should succumb to marketing opportunities to appear more hip and reach a broader audience. I was fascinated to recognize that the National Gallery–which has free admission and welcomes over five million visitors annually—is as concerned as we are at SAM to understand our audiences and develop programs with their needs in mind. But in a film that lasts nearly three hours, this is just one of many activities that hum through the museum, seemingly no more or less important than installing a new lighting system, managing a blockbuster Leonardo da Vinci exhibition, or conserving paintings.

The curators and conservators have unparalleled knowledge about the works of art in their care, but their conversations here are often quite insular and subtle. For me the heroes of the film are the talented and passionate gallery educators who are marvelously effective in helping visitors to understand what the artist was trying to do all those years ago under circumstances that feel quite foreign to us today. All of these dedicated professionals prize active looking, as does Wiseman. He lets scenes unfold in real time, which will require an adjustment from viewers used to quick-paced, plot-driven films. But patience has its rewards, and in the final scene the film achieves poetry as a pair of dancers perform in an empty gallery before two of the most moving works that Titian ever painted. These wordless moments where music, dance, and painting come together resonate with a power beyond all of the eloquent words that came before.

–Chiyo Ishikawa, Susan Brotman Deputy Director for Art and Curator of European Painting and Sculpture

Image: Courtesy of Zipporah Films.

Pop Departures Photo Booth

‘Tis The Season To Be Jolly…

With a permanent collection that spans the globe, featured exhibitions Pop Departures and City Dweller’s: Contemporary Art from India, special Seattle holiday events such as SAM Lights at the Olympic Sculpture Park, and extended hours, a trip to the museum is a great way to spend the holidays.

Bring your family, friends, or out-of-town guests and have fun wandering around the galleries and interacting with fascinating pieces. Stop by SAM Shop or SAM Books for Pop art mementos, and turn your selfies into a work of art by stepping inside our Pop photo booth, selecting a Pop art filter, and snapping a shot!


  • 10 am-­5 pm Tuesday, December 23
  • 10 am-­5 pm Tuesday, December 30
  • 10 am­-5 pm Tuesday, January 6 (Pop Departures final week)

The museum is open on December 24 (closing early at 3 pm) and New Year’s Day (10 am to 9 pm which is First Thursday).


  • Christmas Day

Please call 206.654.3100 for more information about SAM exhibitions and programs, or visit the our website for up-to-date scheduling and hours.

–Bianca Sewake, Seattle Art Museum Communications Intern

Image: Some lovely SAM visitors in our Pop Departures Photo Booth!