What's On

View of "American Cool" exhibition

Past Exhibitions

  • Elaine de Kooning Self-Portrait

    Elaine de Kooning: Portraits

    March 13, 2015 - January 10, 2016

    Elaine de Kooning (1918–1989) began her career in New York City at the center of the Abstract Expressionist movement in the 1940s and 1950s. She painted abstractly, like her husband, Willem de Kooning, and other artists of that generation. However, she was best known for her painterly, gestural portraits.

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  • Portrait of a woman in a darkened setting in a 19th century-style black dress

    IDENTIFY: Performance Art as Portraiture / Martha McDonald

    October 17, 2015
    Great Hall

    Martha McDonald (b. 1964, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) features handcrafted costumes and objects that are activated by the acts of singing, making, and ultimately undoing her handwork as "woman's work." Her performance at the Portrait Gallery is presented in conjunction with the exhibition "Dark Fields of the Republic: Alexander Gardner Photographs, 1859–1872."

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  • Wilmer Wilson's performance in the Great Hall

    IDENTIFY: Performance Art as Portraiture / Wilmer Wilson

    Performance October 10, 2015
    Great Hall

    Wilmer Wilson IV (b. 1989, Richmond, Virginia) is recognized internationally for his investigations of race.  As he slowly covers his body with everyday objects that adhere to his skin, he asks us to think about the historic meanings of black skin in the United States.

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  • Neil Armstrong moonwalk

    TIME Covers the 1960s

    September 26, 2014 - August 9, 2015

    This exhibition of original cover art from the museum's Time collection explored a selection of the major newsmakers, trends and happenings that defined the 1960s, known as the “Age of Aquarius.”

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  • Lee Surrendering to Grant at Appomattox / By Alonzo Chappel (1828 - 1887) / c. 1870 / Oil on paperboard / Smithsonian American Art Museum, gift of Nancy L. Ross in memory of Patricia Firestone Chatham

    One Life: Grant and Lee: “It is well that war is so terrible. . .”

    July 4, 2014 - May 5, 2015

    This special installation of “One Life” considered two lives that were intertwined during the Civil War. The rivalry between generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee was one of the most memorable in American military history.

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  • Sir Charles, Alias Willie Harris / By Barkley Hendricks (born 1945) / Oil on canvas, 1972 / National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; William C. Whitney Foundation

    Face Value: Portraiture in the Age of Abstraction

    April 18, 2014 - January 11, 2015

    Against the background of a post–World War II cultural resurgence in music, poetry, theater, and film—as well as Cold War paranoia and the growing activism regarding civil rights, the Vietnam War, feminism, and other movements—midcentury artists challenged the stereotype of homogenous American life by reassessing the individual.

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