Picturing The Banjo

You and I know the importance of the banjo today, as well as the historical importance of the instrument. Importance to the music we love, bluegrass. But what about the broader historical background behind the banjo? The Corcoran Gallery of Art, in Washington D.C., is currently featuring an exhibit that celebrates what it calls “one of the most frequently encountered icons in American art,” the banjo. This exhibit is a collection of images that capture the history and evolution of the instrument, as well as it’s presence in American art.

Organized by the Palmer Museum of Art at The Pennsylvania State University, Picturing the Banjo will debut at the Corcoran where it will be on view from December 10, 2005 through March 5, 2006.

The exhibit will then travel to the Palmer Museum in Philadelphia March 30 through June 25, and on to the Boston Athenaeum July 26 through October 21.

Picturing the Banjo features 72 works on loan from 41 collections and examines the visual representation of the banjo, probing the icon”s aesthetic and cultural usage in American paintings, drawings, photographs and other artifacts.

Here are a couple additional links with more information.

Absolute Arts

Forbes Magazine [Editor’s Note: They mention Earl briefly and then go on to list Emily Robison of the Dixie Chicks and Bela Fleck as “current banjo masters.” While I don’t think anyone would argue with that title being affixed to Bela’s name, the inclusion of Robison in that same description demonstrates their lack of knowledge about the instrument in today’s world.]