Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The National Portrait Gallery's 100 way cool guys & gals

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. recently mounted an 100-image exhibit called “American Cool.” Its curators created a four-part test for inclusion. The person must have made an original artistic contribution and must have been rebellious or transgressive. In addition, they must have iconic status and have left a significant cultural legacy. Here are a few highlights, along with links to works we have by these artists. We begin with three musicians. Miles Davis—Mr. "Birth of the Cool" himself—is first, in a photo by Aram Avakian. Next up are Lady Day, captured by Bob Willoughby, and Jimi Hendrix, shot by Linda McCartney in 1967.
Lauren Bacall,1949. Alfred Eisenstaedt/Time Life Collection, New York. 
(Bogey is also in the exhibit.)
Marlon Brando, 1950. Copyright Philippe Halsman Archive /Courtesy Smithsonian Institution
James Dean, 1954. By Roy Schatt.
Buster Keaton, circa 1928, by Francis A. DiMauro.

Steve McQueen, 1962. Copyright William Claxton Estate; Courtesy Fahey/Klein Gallery
Turning to the writers, we have two iconoclasts: Walt Whitman (a 1855 engraving by Samuel Hollyer from the Author's Edition of Leaves of Grass, 1882) and Joan Didion, 1970 (by Julian Wasser, courtesy of the Craig Krull Gallery).
Among the other luminaries in the 100: Frank Sinatra, Jackson Pollock, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Susan Sontag, Lester Young, Jack Kerouac, Andy Warhol, Paul Newman, Jack Nicholson, Muhammad Ali, Willie Nelson, and Bill Murray.

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