Face-to-Face, from the National Portrait Gallery
Face-to-Face, from the National Portrait Gallery
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Face-to-Face is a podcast series from the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Listen to Face-to-Face portrait talks, interviews with artists, and lectures from the museum. Face-to-Face portrait talks occur every Thursday at 6pm, in the museum. For more, see the Face-to-Face blog at http://face2face.si.edu/ and the National Portrait Gallery's website at http://npg.si.edu/
Selena, Portrait in a Minute
Selena, Portrait in a Minute: Guest presenter Alina Collins Maldonado, Head of Education at the Gala Hispanic Theatre in Washington, D.C., discusses a 1993 photograph of Selena by Al Rendon. Known as the "queen of Tejano music," Selena Quintanilla-Pérez brought wide recognition to this South Texas blend of Mexican and American musical styles. Her powerful voice made her the idol of fans on both sides of the border. Wearing a bustier, tight pants, and a pouting smile, Selena set a new standard for Latin beauty, and her self-confidence on stage brought comparisons with Madonna. In 1990 she released Ven Conmigo, the first Tejano album by a female artist to go gold, and soon she had her own clothing line and national product endorsements. She won a Grammy Award in 1993, but her life ended tragically two years later, when a former president of her fan club shot and killed her. Selena’s death at age twenty-three caused a huge outpouring of grief, and her legend then converged with the rising stardom of fellow Latina singer Jennifer Lopez, who gave a strong performance in her first leading role in Selena (1997).
Jan 6, 2015
4 min
Lucretia Mott, Daguerreotype Portrait
Lucretia Mott, Daguerreotype Portrait: Ann Shumard, Senior Curator of Photography at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, discusses an 1851 daguerreotype portrait of Lucretia Coffin Mott. Lucretia Mott's commitment to ending slavery and securing rights for women became the defining features of her life. A devout Quaker whose activism proved unsettling to some members of her faith, Mott assumed a highly visible role in the abolitionist movement. After joining William Lloyd Garrison at the launch of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, she helped to found Philadelphia's Female Anti-Slavery Society. Her concern for women's rights was a natural outgrowth of her abolitionist efforts, and in 1848. Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized the convention at Seneca Falls, New York, that gave birth to the women's suffrage movement.
Jan 5, 2015
3 min
Artist Bo Gehring on his portrait of Esperanza Spalding
Artist Bo Gehring discusses his 2014 portrait of Esperanza Spalding. The video portrait, commissioned for the museum from 2013 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition winner Bo Gehring, will be exhibited in the museum in May 2015. The full video portrait can be viewed here: http://youtu.be/jKEu1Qb4OWM "This commission of Esperanza Spalding by Bo Gehring is the fifth digital video portrait to enter into the National Portrait Gallery's growing collection of time-based media art" said Kim Sajet, director of the museum. To create a work, Gehring plays a piece of music of his sitter's choosing while he or she lies on a low table. A camera, suspended overhead on a track, begins at the feet and slowly moves up the body to reveal the subject's face. The motion of the computer-controlled camera is exactly synchronized to the person'sheight and the duration of his or her chosen music. The integral role of music in his portraits made Spalding, a bassist, vocalist and composer,an ideal candidate for the commissioned work. Spalding chose Wayne Shorter's "Tarde" from the 1974 album Native Dancer to be part of her portrait.In the track, Shorter plays tenor saxophone, vocals are by Milton Nascimento, Herbie Hancock is on the electric piano, David Amaro is on guitar, David McDaniel plays bass, and Roberto Silva plays the drums. Spalding says this piece of music is important because, "Herbie, Wayne and Milton are part of me." ---- Esperanza Spalding, a portrait. By Bo Gehring, 2014. Esperanza's chosen music "Tarde" (1974) used with the kind permission of Wayne Shorter.
Jan 2, 2015
6 min
William Tecumseh Sherman, Portrait in a Minute
The National Portrait Gallery's Warren Perry discusses an 1866 painting of William Tecumseh Sherman by George Peter Alexander Healy. "War is war and not popularity-seeking." With these words to his Confederate opponent at Atlanta, General William T. Sherman suggested the attitude that made him both a successful commander and a bitterly hated figure in the South. He stripped war of glory and chivalry. His destructive march through Georgia and his later campaign in the Carolinas dismantled the economic base of the Confederacy and shattered the morale of its citizens. His methods anticipated twentieth-century "total war." Influenced perhaps by Sherman's reputation for severe tactics in the field, artist G. P. A. Healy once noted that he found the Union general a forbidding portrait subject at first. But as the posing progressed, he found the general quite friendly.
Dec 30, 2014
2 min
"Out of Many, One" by artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada
"Out of Many, One" was commissioned by the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery and created by Cuban American urban artist, Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada. This giant portrait was placed temporarily on the National Mall from Oct. 4 through Oct. 31, 2014. For the work titled "Out of Many, One," the English translation of E pluribus unum, Rodriguez-Gerada is using dozens of images of people photographed in Washington, D.C., to create a composite portrait that will be an interactive walk-through experience for visitors and also be viewable from the newly reopened Washington Monument. The work is so large it is also visible via satellite. The project covers 6 acres and falls midway between the World War II and Lincoln memorials along the south side of the Reflecting Pool. "Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada's work demonstrates that the art of portraiture knows no boundaries," said Kim Sajet, director of the Portrait Gallery. "Who we are, how we perceive others, those we recognize and those we place in high esteem constantly shifts over time. Portraits and the people they represent can be as big as we are willing to imagine." Rodriguez-Gerada has translated his drawing into a digital format incorporating parallel lines. Currently each line is being drawn out using TopCon high-precision satellite navigation receivers on the ground. The image is created using different colors of dirt and sand based on these lines. The GPS technology allows the artist to place the large-scale image at the location with high resolution and precision. "This portrait, a stunning compilation of American faces, reflects the unique composition of the National Mall's 29 million annual visitors and honors the legacy of diversity that has made this park—and our country—so great," said Caroline Cunningham, president of the Trust for the National Mall. The installation began in September 2014 and was completed by October 1, 2014. The project required approximately 2,000 tons of sand, 800 tons of soil, 10,000 wooden pegs and 8 miles of string. At the conclusion of the temporary exhibition, the high-quality sand and dirt was tilled back into the soil to help the National Park Service as they move forward with the next phase of turf restoration on the National Mall. The sand-soil composition will leave the grounds in better condition than when the project began. "'Out of Many, One' reflects what the National Mall stands for—democracy, diversity and freedom of expression," said National Mall and Memorial Parks Superintendent Bob Vogel. "It will provide visitors with a unique national park experience and, in keeping with our mission, will improve the soil for better turf in the future. These benefits would not be possible without this unique partnership." Rodríguez-Gerada, born in Cuba and raised in New Jersey since the age of 3, has worked in this style of urban portraiture since 2002. His art aims to create a dialogue about the concept of identity, and it questions the role models who are chosen to represent people in the public sphere. These works have no negative environmental impact and are created to poetically blend back into the land. All of Rodríguez-Gerada's large-scale "facescapes" can be seen from space and are part of his TERRESTRIAL series; this is the first placed in the United States. Others have been created in Barcelona, Spain; Amsterdam; and Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Dec 29, 2014
5 min
"Out of Many, One" -- preview
"Out of Many, One" on the Nat'l Mall, Oct 4 - 31, 2014: Giant landscape portrait by artist Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada. “Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada's work demonstrates that the art of portraiture knows no boundaries," said Kim Sajet, director of the Portrait Gallery. "Who we are, how we perceive others, those we recognize and those we place in high esteem constantly shifts over time. Portraits and the people they represent can be as big as we are willing to imagine." Rodriguez-Gerada has translated his drawing into a digital format incorporating parallel lines. Currently each line is being drawn out using TopCon high-precision satellite navigation receivers on the ground. The image is created using different colors of dirt and sand based on these lines. The GPS technology allows the artist to place the large-scale image at the location with high resolution and precision. "This portrait, a stunning compilation of American faces, reflects the unique composition of the National Mall’s 29 million annual visitors and honors the legacy of diversity that has made this park—and our country—so great," said Caroline Cunningham, president of the Trust for the National Mall. The installation began in September and will be completed by the end of the month. The project will require approximately 2,000 tons of sand, 800 tons of soil, 10,000 wooden pegs and 8 miles of string. At the conclusion of the temporary exhibition, the high-quality sand and dirt will be tilled back into the soil to help the National Park Service as they move forward with the next phase of turf restoration on the National Mall. The sand-soil composition will leave the grounds in better condition than when the project began. "'Out of Many, One' reflects what the National Mall stands for—democracy, diversity and freedom of expression," said National Mall and Memorial Parks Superintendent Bob Vogel. "It will provide visitors with a unique national park experience and, in keeping with our mission, will improve the soil for better turf in the future. These benefits would not be possible without this unique partnership." Rodriguez-Gerada, born in Cuba and raised in New Jersey since the age of 3, has worked in this style of urban portraiture since 2002. His art aims to create a dialogue about the concept of identity, and it questions the role models who are chosen to represent people in the public sphere. These works have no negative environmental impact and are created to poetically blend back into the land. All of Rodriguez-Gerada’s large-scale "facescapes" can be seen from space and are part of his TERRESTRIAL series; this is the first placed in the United States. Others have been created in Barcelona, Spain; Amsterdam; and Belfast, Northern Ireland. The work has come together in large part due to a group of in-kind donors, including Clark Construction, Chaney Enterprises, The Bulldog Group, Alvin Hatcher Group and Topcon, with consulting assistance from Terry Stancill. The National Portrait Gallery presents "Out of Many, One," by Rodríguez-Gerada in partnership with the Trust for the National Mall and the National Park Service.
Oct 7, 2014
1 min
Charles Willson Peale, Portrait in a Minute
Charles Willson Peale, Portrait in a Minute: NPG senior historian David C. Ward discusses Charles Willson Peale. Charles Willson Peale is best remembered as an artist, but he was also the proprietor of the first important museum in America, the Philadelphia Museum of art and natural history. In his mid-forties, after painting hundreds of portraits of the powerful and elite, Peale began a lifelong undertaking: the creation of a new museum designed for a republic. While science museums in Europe placed their specimens in drawers, pinned flat to white cloth, Peale's museum, designed to involve large numbers of Americans in an educational experience, presented them to visitors in lifelike situations, labeled with their scientific names and ordered in the Linnaean classification. Anyone who could pay the twenty-five-cent admission fee could enter, unlike European institutions, which required special application. Peale also directed the first scientific expedition in America, which exhumed and assembled a mastodon skeleton, helping scientists prove the existence of prehistoric animals. Three years after completing this self-portrait, Peale gave up portrait painting as his profession to focus on his museum. Charles Willson Peale Self-Portrait / Oil on canvas, c. 1791 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Frame conserved with funds from the Smithsonian Women's Committee
Sep 25, 2014
2 min
Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Portrait in a Minute
Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, Portrait in a Minute. The National Portrait Gallery's Jewell Robinson discusses a 1935 photograph of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson by George Hurrell. The "Dancing the Dream" exhibition is on display from October 4, 2013 through July 13, 2014. Tap-dancing virtuoso Bill "Bojangles" Robinson began earning nickels and dimes for his street- corner routines and beer-garden performances when he was a child, and he was barely in his teens when he joined the chorus of the touring minstrel extravaganza The South Before the War. But it was on the vaudeville circuit and as a popular nightclub entertainer that he earned his reputation as the "World's Greatest Tap Dancer." Combining superb showmanship with a winning personality, Robinson was a hit with audiences for more than half a century. In addition to appearances on Broadway in the all-black revue Blackbirds of 1928 and The Hot Mikado (1939), Robinson earned lasting fame from his performances in movies such as the Little Colonel (1935), in which his signature "stair dance" tap routine with Shirley Temple provided the film's most memorable moment. Filmed at NPG, June 4, 2014 Bill "Bojangles" Robinson / George Hurrell / Gelatin silver print on paper, 1935 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; © George Hurrell, Jr. Elaine de Kooning Self-Portrait / Oil on Masonite, 1946 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, © Elaine de Kooning Trust
Jul 18, 2014
3 min
Conservation of a Monument to Daguerre
The Jonathan Scott Hartley monument to Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre at the National Portrait Gallery was recently restored, in May 2014. The monument can be seen at the corner of 7th and F streets, in Washington DC's Penn Quarter/Chinatown neighborhood. See the restoration process in this video. The monument is on loan from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. The restoration project received federal support from the Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund, administered by the National Collections Program and the Smithsonian Collections Advisory Committee For more on the monument, visit our blog: http://face2face.si.edu/my_weblog/2011/06/who-is-that-frenchman-on-seventh-street-part-one-.html Monument to Jacques-Louis-Mandé Daguerre / By Jonathan Scott Hartley (1845-1912) / Bronze and granite, cast 1890 Lent by Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center Music "Button Mushrooms," "By Grace" and "Squiggly Line" by Podington Bear From Free Music Archive (http://freemusicarchive.org) Used via Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License. https://soundcloud.com/podingtonbear
Jun 19, 2014
5 min
NPG Highlights - Win/Spr 2014
A recap of 2014, so far, at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery tells the history of America through individuals who have shaped its culture. Through the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the American story. Music: "Kicks" by Sycamore Drive From Free Music Archive (http://freemusicarchive.org/music/sycamore_drive) Used via Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License
Apr 25, 2014
2 min
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