« Lino Tagliapietra: Wedded to Glass | Eye Level Home | Collector's Roundtable: Lewis Nerman at Smithsonian American Art on October 28 »

In This Case: Halloween Costumes
October 25, 2008

In This Case is a series of ongoing posts on art in the Luce Foundation Center, a visible art storage facility at the Smithsonian American Art Museum that displays more than 3,300 pieces in sixty-four secure glass cases. This piece was written by a SAAM staff member.

Gregorio Marzan

Gregorio Marzan's Statue of Liberty

Not sure what you want to be for Halloween? Do you have visions of making your grand entrance only to find you're the third person at the party wearing a superhero or witch costume? If you're looking for inspiration, please visit us at the Luce Center!

Here are some ideas for Luce-inspired Halloween costumes that are sure to raise your cred at any gathering.

Men, channel your inner cavalier and dress up as Cornelius Johnson's Portrait of a Gentleman (1635–1640). This painting was donated to the collection by Ralph Cross Johnson before our mission focused entirely on American art. (Portrait of a Gentleman's neighbor in the Luce Center, Portrait of Rubens' Wife, would be a great costume for women!)

If the election season has you thinking of something more American, take a look at Gregorio Marzan's Statue of Liberty. This option is not only affordable, but cries out to your creative spirit. Marzan combined found objects—fabric, plaster, a light bulb, even glue caps—to riff on a familiar American icon. Check your attic and your kitchen junk drawer for your materials!

For maximum effect, work with your friends to recreate a group from a painting or sculpture. If you're going with two friends take a look at James Leonard's Wind Machine with Gabriel, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Louis Armstrong. You might even mimic the motion of this folk art piece on the dance floor. A larger group could be inspired by a painting from Paul Cadmus's humorous series, Aspects of Suburban Life. Though they were commissioned as studies for post office murals, the murals were never installed.

If I had to create a Luce-inspired costume, I would dress up as Minerva from Abbott Handerson Thayer's Minerva with Chariot; not only do I enjoy mythology and Thayer's painting, but it is simple to imitate classical drapery! If you aren't able to come to the Luce Center in person for inspiration, browse our Web site for thousands of great ideas. There's more to Halloween than bats and black cats!

Posted by Jeff on October 25, 2008 in In This Case: Luce Foundation Center


Thanks for the ideas. I was thinking of mixing some ideas with the super hero theme. Example, cross dressing Wolverine with the costume from Cornelius Johnson's Portrait of a Gentleman. Imagine Wolverine in a gentleman outfit. It would be hilarious and fun.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Related Posts with Thumbnails