George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, oil on canvas, 1796; acquired as a gift to the nation through the generosity of the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation
The National Portrait Gallery’s permanent exhibition - America’s Presidents - reopened to the public in September after undergoing extensive renovations. Gilbert Stuart’s Lansdowneportrait of President George Washington, which is pictured above this article, underwent 18 months of careful conservation and analysis before being displayed.
The Gallery refreshed the physical space of the presidential exhibition with improved graphics, lighting, paint, and more, and enhanced visitors' experiences through new labels, wall texts and the addition of interactive touch screens.
The National Portrait Gallery will exhibit UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light, Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar, March 23-January 6, 2019. The two leading contemporary artists focus on the under-representation and mis-representation of certain minorities in portraiture and American history. The artists illuminate the contributions and sacrifices people of color made during the country’s founding. The Portrait Gallery curators for the exhibition are Curator of Painting and Sculpture and Latino Art and History, Taína Caragol, and Curator of Prints, Drawings and Media Arts Asma Naeem.
Images below: 13 Plasters (Row 3) by Ken Gonzales-Day / 2014 (printed 2017), Chromogenic print / Courtesy of the artist and Luis De Jesus, Los Angeles
The National Portrait Gallery is exhibiting The Sweat of Their Face: Portraying American Workersthru September 3, 2018.The exhibition “combines art and social history with representations of American laborers across genres and centuries of art. Artists such as Winslow Homer, Dorothea Lange, Elizabeth Catlett, and Lewis Hine depicted laborers throughout the changing landscape of America; from child and slave laborers to miners, railway and steel workers, to the modern gradual disappearance of the worker. Approximately 70 objects in all media (including video) highlight a point of connection between the artists and their predominately anonymous subjects.” The exhibition is curated by Senior Historian and Director of Scholarly Programs David C. Ward and Associate Curator of Painting and Sculpture Dorothy Moss.
The National Portrait Gallery is exhibiting Recent Acquisitions, thru November 4, 2018. The annual exhibition features 27 objects that tell the story of America through the art of portraiture and showcase some of the newest additions to the museum’s collection. The portraits featured include those of Francis Scott Key, Madeleine Albright, Gertrude Jeannette, Dr. Norman Francis, Harry Callahan, Rita Moreno and Dustin Lance Black.
The Portrait Gallery is exhibiting Portraits of the World: Switzerland, which will be the first exhibition of a series that will highlight the global context of American portraiture, thru November 12, 2018. Each year, the Gallery will showcase a portrait created by an international artist affiliated with the lending country. The first featured work is Femme en Extase, a portrait of the Italian dancer Giulia Leonardi by the great Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler. The portrait is on loan from the Museum of Art and History in Geneva. The painting “embodies the Swiss modernist approach to expressing emotion through movements of the body—a theory known as eurhythmics—which had an international impact and transformed dance in America. The Swiss painting is complemented by works from the Portrait Gallery’s collection representing American dancers influenced by this theory of eurhythmics.”
The National Portrait Gallery is exhibiting Marlene Dietrich: Dressed for the Image, thru April 15, 2018.Dietrich brought androgyny to the silver screen through her roles in such movies as Morocco (1930) and Seven Sinners (1940). “She challenged the strictly limited notions of femininity at the time through her lifestyle and fashion……”The German-born star is a symbol of anti-Nazism, a fashion icon and an influential figure of the LGBTQ community.
Portrait Gallery historian Kate C. Lemay is the curator of this exhibition.
Image below: Marlene Dietrich on the SS Europa, 1933, Cherbourg, France. Photograph by Paul Cwojdzinski, Deutsche Kinemathek - Marlene Dietrich Collection Berlin
The National Portrait Gallery is exhibiting Antebellum Portraits by Mathew Brady, thru June 3, 2018.Best-known today for his Civil War–era photographs, Brady was an internationally-acclaimed portrait photographer more than a decade before the war.
The exhibition “traces the trajectory of Brady’s early career through portrait daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and salted-paper prints in the National Portrait Gallery’s collection. Contemporary engravings, as well as several advertising broadsides Brady used to market his portrait enterprise, are also included.
Ann Shumard, the Portrait Gallery’s senior curator of photographs, is the curator of this exhibition.”
The National Portrait Gallery is exhibiting One Life: Sylvia Plath, thru May 20, 2018. The exhibition employs the poet's personal letters, her own artwork, family photographs and relevant objects, to highlight her “struggle to understand her own self and to navigate the societal pressures placed on young women during her time.”
Dorothy Moss, curator of painting and sculpture at the Portrait Gallery, is curator for the exhibition and is joined by guest co-curator Karen Kukil, associate curator of rare books and manuscripts at Smith College
Image below: Sylvia Plath with Frieda and Nicholas, Court Green - Siv Arb (31 Oct 1931 - 4 Feb 2015) - April 1962 - Photo blow-up - Courtesy Writer Pictures