National Portrait Gallery


Gallery installs Eunice Kennedy Shriver portrait – BostonHerald.com

It’s a good painting – meticulousiy rendered but not overwrought. I love the fact that this is a portrait of a woman who doesn’t need to be flattered. Her face shows all the pain and joy of living 87 years. It’s wonderful to see a portrait reveal something about a person’s interests and achievements instead of just their appearance.

It’s now on view at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC (hence the shameless plug).

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Outlaws at the Art Museum (and Not for a Heist) – NYTimes.com

I should have mentioned this one last week but I just forgot.

See the photograph above: The three gentlemen work for the registrar’s department at the National Portrait Gallery (left to right – Dale, Mark and Todd). Normally they don’t dress this well to install art but it was a special occasion. Besides, it’s nice to know they scrub up so well and are still able to lift large art with style. The title above the portrait and the hidden label to the left of the portrait were created and installed by me.

The portrait was recently given to the museum and installed the Saturday before the inaugural. It was a pain to do at the last minute but I really love this piece. It really outshines the Bush portraits.

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National Portrait Gallery | Face to Face blog

I admit I’m not in the loop at work. I go in, do my job, I go home. I tend to ignore the other stuff. As a result I miss things, too. This is one thing I missed. The National Portrait Gallery has a blog called Face to Face which updates the public on events. It’s a pretty good blog, too.

Today, there was a truly special event – the unveiling of the portraits of the president and first lady. It’s the first time that a sitting president has had a portrait added to the collection for permanent display. I’m not going to comment on the portraits themselves since that’s not the focus of this entry. Draw your own conclusions. ‘Nuf said.

Anyway, check out the Face to Face blog. That’s the good thing for today.

I was hard pressed to find something good today and feel lucky that I stumbled upon this so late in the day. Whew.

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Exhibition Review – ‘One Life – The Mask of Lincoln’ – The Faces of Lincoln, as Revealed in Books and a New Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery – NYTimes.com

It’s been a while since I shamelessly plugged anything but I couldn’t resist today. This is a wonderfully positive review that mentions the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibition called ONE LIFE: The Mask of Lincoln. It’s a small show but packed with great images of the man. 2009 is the year of Lincoln celebrating the 200th anniversary of his birth so there is Lincoln stuff all over the country. Here is a quote from the article:

Two white plaster masks appear next to each other in a display case at the National Portrait Gallery here. One shows a middle-aged face with a firm, grim look — perhaps because the subject had to control his breathing as the sculptor waited for the substance to harden. The plaster eyes are scooped out, but you can glimpse the interior man in the subtle musculature of the jaw, the high cheekbones, the expansive, smooth brow. He is determined, vigorous and (we know) ambitious.

The other mask is of the same man’s face, about five years later. It seems more of a death mask than one taken from life. Those years — between 1860, when this man, Abraham Lincoln, was beginning his campaign for president of the United States, and February 1865, when he was just two months away from being murdered — seem to have carved the flesh from his cheeks, hollowed out the eye sockets more decisively than any sculptor’s thumb, and dug lines and pockets in aging, sallow flesh.

This modest exhibition of 30 images of Lincoln at the Portrait Gallery — “One Life: The Mask of Lincoln” — may turn out to be an understated highlight of Lincoln’s coming bicentennial year, which promises a full harvest of academic conferences, exhibitions, the reopening of Ford’s Theater and scores of new books, many offering revelations from freshly plumbed archives and analyses of figures major and minor. But the juxtaposition of these masks may remain one of the most potent, graphic images of the effects of the crucial years they frame.

If you are in DC (possibly to see the newly re-opened National Museum of American History), please visit the National Portrait Gallery and take in this lovely exhibition.

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Steichen, Sold on The Celebrity Aesthetic – washingtonpost.com

The link is for a review of our recently opened exhibition “Edward Steichen: Portraits” at the National Portrait Gallery. It’s a positive review but it seems to have a bit of an edge to it.

“Self-Portrait With Brush and Palette” is a celebrity photograph, an early one, one of the first. If you want to understand the knack of Annie Leibovitz, or the useful affections of Jeff Koons and Julian Schnabel, or how dress-up self-promotion got so deep into the art world, this 107-year-old image is a place where you might start.

It’s half artwork, half ad.

It’s great exhibition – not too large, not too small, very intimate. Here is the link to the official site for the exhibition:

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DCist: Colbert Portrait Hanging in National Portrait Gallery

The Colbert Report has been blissfully, if not nearly at full speed without its striking writers, back for a little more than a week now on Comedy Central. For three nights straight they’ve been running a series showing Stephen traipsing all over Washington with a portrait of himself strapped to his back, trying to convince one of the Smithsonian museums to actually hang it up. Without dwelling on how we managed to miss out on catching this spectacle up close and personal, the real news is that as of last night, Stephen Colbert was successful in his quest. The National Portrait Gallery confirmed this morning that Colbert’s portrait is in fact now hanging above the bathroom on the 2nd floor, just outside of the America’s Presidents exhibit.

The portrait will be hanging in the museum, which is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., for the next six weeks.

It’s true – Stephen Colbert was at the National Portrait Gallery. While I didn’t see the filming, I did get to typeset the label for the digital image on canvas. Just one little bit of “behind-the-scenes” info: the hacky sack wasn’t his – he borrowed it from one of the art handlers (and graciously autographed it for him, too).

Does getting on the Colbert Report make us a little more hip? Not really, but it’s great to see more people in the gallery.

Here are some other links to sites commenting on the Colbert portrait:

Associated Press
Washington Post Reliable Source
Washington Examiner
Philadelphia Inquirer
MSNBC
NBC 4 news

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Seeing the Light at Last – washingtonpost.com

This weekend saw the opening of the courtyard at the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture (aka the Old Patent Office Building and home of the National Portrait Gallery). So far the reviews have been good. The link above is for the Washington Post article. I won’t post one for the Washington Times – they hated it.

Staff were given a coupon for a free “non-alcoholic” beverage from the new cafe so I went over and got a hot chocolate and sprang for a chocolate brownie, too. It was good hot chocolate but could have been a touch richer in flavor. The brownie was thickly iced and very fudgey – and expensive at $3.85.

The courtyard is quite stunning and I’m certain it will be the place that parents will bring their kids to run and burn off energy. I just hope they don’t wipe their grimy fingers on the cases in the galleries – just another thing to clean in the morning.

If you are in DC, I recommend dropping by to see the courtyard but please stay to see the collection, too.

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