Press Preview for “Lumia: Thomas Wilfred and the Art of Light”

Media only: 

Laura Baptiste 
(202) 633-8494  

Taylor Dorn 
(202) 633-8523  

Media website


Press preview for exhibition “Lumia: Thomas Wilfred and the Art of Light” and behind-the-scenes opportunity to see inner workings of avant-garde light sculptures


Tuesday, September 5, 2017 – 11:00am


Thursday, Oct. 5  
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.   
: 11 a.m.  
Remarks: 11:30 a.m. 


Smithsonian American Art Museum
Enter at Eighth and G streets N.W.


Interested media should RSVP to Photographers and film crews are welcome; please contact the office in advance to make arrangements. Requests for one-on-one interviews may be made in advance with Laura Baptiste by email at

“Lumia: Thomas Wilfred and the Art of Light” features 15 light compositions by Thomas Wilfred (1889–1968), shown together for the first time in nearly 50 years. This pioneering artist’s spellbinding light compositions, which he referred to collectively as “lumia,” display ever-changing colored forms against a black background, like an aurora borealis emerging from and disappearing into the night sky. Notable artists of his time, such as Jackson Pollock, László Moholy-Nagy and Katherine Dreier, recognized Wilfred as an innovator.

Wilfred had disappeared from the story of American modernism as his works became hard to maintain and were consequently relegated to museums’ storage. Extensive research and reassembly by conservators has made it possible to present the works now in their original form. This groundbreaking exhibition restores Wilfred to his rightful place in the history of modern art.

Information about the exhibition is available in an online press kit,

“Lumia: Thomas Wilfred and the Art of Light” was organized by Keely Orgeman, the Alice and Allan Kaplan Assistant Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture at the Yale University Art Gallery and was made possible by the Terra Foundation for American Art. The presentation at the Smithsonian American Art Museum is a collaboration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Generous funding for the exhibition was provided by the Elizabeth Broun Curatorial Endowment, the James F. Dicke Family Endowment and the scan | design Foundation.

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[Category: Society and Culture]