Profiled Series: Untitled: Bust of Mary Seacole by Henry Weeks; marble, 1859; The J.Paul Getty Museum. Los Angeles and Bust of Mm. Adélaïde Julie Mirleau de Newville, née Garnier d'Isle by Jean-Baptiste Pigalle; marble, 1750s; The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles by Ken Gonzales-Day, archival ink on rag paper, 2009 (printed 2017). Courtesy of the artist and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles. Copyright 2017, Ken Gonzales-Day, all rights reserved.

Fine Art Connoisseur wishes a warm congratulations to the National Portrait Gallery as it celebrates its 50th year in 2018 with the following special fine art exhibitions.

National Portrait Gallery - Titus Kaphar painting
Titus Kaphar, “Ona Judge: Portrait in Tar,” 2016, oil on canvas with tar, Ellen and Steve Susman, © Titus Kaphar. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

UnSeen: Our Past in a New Light: Ken Gonzales-Day and Titus Kaphar (March 23, 2018 through January 6, 2019), reveals how people of color have been missing in historical portraiture, and how their contributions to the nation’s past are rendered equally invisible. Focused around work by two contemporary artists using vastly different pictorial styles, the exhibition brings to the forefront visual representations of women, African Americans, Native Americans, Latino Americans, and other minorities to amend America’s historical narrative. Reworking traditional art representations, Gonzales-Day and Kaphar lay bare mainstream cultural biases and social constructions of race.

National Portrait Gallery - Kristi Malakoff
Kristi Malakoff, “Maibaum,” 2009, paper and foam core; Photo by Kristi Malakoff
Auguste Edouart (1788-1861), “Thomas Sully,” 1843, ink, chalk, and cut paper on paper, 11 x 8 3/8 in., National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Gift of Robert L. McNeil, Jr.

Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now (May 11, 2018 through March 20, 2019) explores the art of cut-paper profiles, a relatively unstudied art form, by examining its rich historical roots and considering its powerful contemporary presence. With both historical and contemporary explorations into the silhouette, “Black Out” reveals new pathways between the past and the present, particularly in terms of reassessing notions of race, power, individualism, and even our digital selves.

Charlette Cushman, by unidentified artist, c.1850, half-plate daguerreotype, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Seneca Chief Governor Blacksnake, by F.C. Flint, c.1850, quarter-plate daguerreotype, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Daguerreotypes: Five Decades of Collecting (June 15, 2018 through June 2, 2019) highlights 50 years of the National Portrait Gallery’s art by showcasing early portrait photography. The installation includes portraits of such iconic figures as activist and reformer Dorothea Dix, entrepreneur and showman P.T. Barnum with Tom Thumb, Seneca Nation leader Blacksnake, U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew C. Perry, and artist Alfred Waud.

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