National Portrait Gallery

Post image for What It Is to Be Cool in America

What is cool and why do Americans care so much? That’s the hinge on which the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has fixed American Cool — an exhibition of portraiture that opened in February — and its accompanying catalogue.

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Post image for The Portrait in the 21st Century

The National Portrait Gallery in London has published a compendium of what portraiture means for the 21st century. While the media may be more tech-heavy than previous centuries, the examination of self remains, perhaps with even more questions of what that means than before.

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Post image for Smithsonian Brings Google Glass to the Museum

If you’re a simple layperson who’s not yet had the chance to experience the magic that is Google Glass, you may want to visit the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, starting this Saturday.

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Post image for How the Looming US Government Shutdown Will Affect the World of Art

By midnight this evening, we’ll finally know whether the government will be shut down — that’s the silver lining to be found in the otherwise bleak congressional budget debate.

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Post image for Political Pressure Censors Artwork And Creates Unexpected Spectacle

I feel naïve to have thought that art offered one of the only scared spaces to be freely expressive. Two weeks ago, I wrote a post that attempted to diplomatically depict the controversial saga that has unfolded over artist Brett Murray’s “The Spear”, a Communist propaganda style portrayal of South African president Jacob Zuma with his penis hanging out from his zipper.

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Post image for Smithsonian Censor Wins Muzzle Award

The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression has given out one of its annual “Jefferson Muzzle” awards to Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough for his removal of David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly” video and censoring of Hide/Seek at the National Portrait Gallery. That’s one trophy we assume won’t be going on display in his home.

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Post image for Jan 31 Protest Will Confront Smithsonian Board Meeting

The Smithsonian’s Board of Regents, the highest administrative body of the organization, will be meeting on Monday January 31st with Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough to discuss his decision to censor David Wojnarowicz’s “A Fire in My Belly” from the National Portrait Gallery’s Hide/Seek exhibition. An anti-censorship protest will be held at 1 PM outside the Smithsonian’s headquarters.

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Post image for What Has Hide/Seek Lost? A Review

On November 30, 1994, choreographer Bill T. Jones’s experimental dance piece “Still/Here” opened at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The work featured live dancers performing in front of video footage of terminally ill people discussing their sicknesses. Nearly a month later, dance critic Arlene Croce blasted the piece in a now-infamous essay in the New Yorker. Announcing that she had never seen “Still/Here” and had no intention of doing so, Croce wrote, “By working dying people into his act, Jones is putting himself beyond the reach of criticism. I think of him as literally undiscussable.” She went on to classify that category of undiscussability as “those dancers I’m forced to feel sorry for because of the way they present themselves: as dissed blacks, abused women, or disenfranchised homosexuals—as performers, in short, who make out of victimhood victim art.” In many ways, the National Portrait Gallery’s current, controversial, and excellent special exhibition Hide/Seek feels like a resounding rebuttal of Croce’s thesis.

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Post image for Banned NPG Protesters Plan Museum of Censored Art

Kriston Capps reports that the iPad protesters previously banned from the Smithsonian are returning to the site of their crimes. This time, artists Michael Blasenstein and Michael Iacovone will stage a fully legal protest by parking a trailer outside the National Portrait Gallery and screening Wojnarowicz’s censored video inside.

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Post image for Five Non-NYC Shows Coming Up in 2011

Odds are, you’re probably doing some traveling in 2011. If you’ve got places to go, we’ve got art for you to check out. From Gerhard Richter’s retrospective at the Tate to an exhibition of Gertrude Stein’s personal collection in San Francisco, here are five exhibitions outside of New York to look for in the next year. Better start planning that business trip now!

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