Published: October 1, 2002
London’s National Portrait Gallery Presents Paintings and Photographs from Washington, D.C.
LONDON – “Americans: Paintings and Photographs from the National Portrait Gallery, Washington,” is being presented from October 10 to January 12, 2003 at the National Portrait Gallery, London
Focusing on the lives of more than 150 men and women who have shaped American history, this exhibition is drawn from the collections of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. It represents a rich selection of American heroes, writers, statesmen, inventors, educators, musicians, artists and scientists. The National Portrait Gallery, London, is the only European venue for this exhibition.
“Americans” brings together 70 paintings and 60 photographic images with sitters ranging from Benjamin Franklin and Henry James to Marilyn Monroe and Michael Jackson. Together, these portraits comprise an unparalleled overview of the contribution that individuals have made to American politics, society and culture.
Dating from the 1720s to the 1990s, the images vary in style and technique, from the sophisticated paintings of John Singer Sargent and the photographs of Richard Avedon, to work by self-taught artists such as Thomas Badger and William Elwell. Some portraits include details that tell viewers about the sitter’s accomplishments at first glance, while others benefit from insights offered in contemporary descriptions and four minidocumentary films produced and provided by the Biography Channel as part of their interactive support of the exhibition.
The exhibition will be divided into sections: Independence, New Americans, Freedom, A Social World, Americans Abroad, Men of Letters and Twentieth Century Performing Arts.
Artists such as John Singleton Copley, James McNeill Whistler, Mary Cassatt and Alice Neel and writers, including Edith Wharton, Mark Twain and John Updike, are represented alongside other notable Americans such as Sequoyah, Davy Crockett, Tallulah Bankhead, George Gershwin and Lena Horne. An exceptional selection of photographs, only included in the London showing of the exhibition, represents, among others, legendary American entertainers including Ingrid Bergman, Spencer Tracy, Lucille Ball, Leonard Bernstein, Audrey Hepburn, Louis Armstrong and Bill Cosby.
The portrait tradition in the United States is richly textured, like the multifaceted historical narrative it reflects. The paintings and photographs in this exhibition suggest the diverse range of individuals who have shaped the American experience and introduce the stylistic variety characteristic portraits of Americans.
A two-day conference, “Facing Portraiture,” has been organized by the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., the National Portrait Gallery, London and the University of Westminster. This will take place October 11-12 at the National Portrait Gallery, London.
For information, contact the Education Department at 020-7312-2483. For general information, 020-7306-0055 or www.npg.org.uk.
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