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Joshua P. Smith

Joshua P. Smith was a curator and avid collector of contemporary photography, and curated several outstanding museum and gallery exhibitions. Smith was a graduate of Brown University, and held a Masters in European History from Stanford University and a law degree from Harvard University. He began collecting art in the 1970s, primarily in the Washington D.C. and New York City area. As he continued to collect vintage and contemporary photographs in the early 1980s, his interest in prints became decidedly cutting-edge as he noticed a resurgence of expressive experimentation in printmaking techniques by artists new to the medium. He built a deep and diverse collection of American and European prints from the 1980s and in 1989, was acknowledged with the exhibition The 1980s: Prints from the Collection of Joshua P. Smith at the National Gallery of Art. In 1986, Smith left his position in law to concentrate on collecting and curating. He curated the exhibition, The Photography of Invention: American Pictures of the 1980s at the National Museum of American Art, as well as exhibitions at the Katonah Museum of Art, the Cocoran Gallery, among other galleries and universities. Smith published and lectured on connoisseurship and current movements and issues in the art world. This included a piece on the controversy surrounding the National Endowment for the Arts’ decision to fund Robert Mapplethorpe’s 1988 exhibition, The Perfect Moment, which was published in New American Writing for its issue on Censorship in the Arts. From the mid-1980s until his death in 2005, Smith devoted all of his time, talent, experience, and passion to looking at, acquiring, and caring for art.

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