Advance Exhibition Calendar

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The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today

Oct. 26, 2019–Aug. 30, 2020

Press Preview: Friday, Oct. 25, 2019, 10 to 11:30 a.m.

“The Outwin 2019: American Portraiture Today,” curated by the Portrait Gallery’s Taína Caragol and Dorothy Moss, reveals the power of portraiture to probe history and shed light on contemporary experience. The exhibition presents nearly 50 works by both established and emerging artists living in the United States. The artworks were all selected by a jury as part of the museum’s fifth triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. Ranging from traditional likenesses to conceptual portraiture, the selected entries span a variety of media. In addition to painting, drawing, photography, and sculpture, the exhibition includes installations, performance art, photography and video projections. Each portrait was created between 2016 and 2018 and speaks to topical issues such as Black Lives Matter, homelessness and immigration. The exhibition presents fresh and engaging representations of people whose stories might otherwise be left out of traditional historical narratives.

Recent Acquisitions

Nov. 15, 2019–Aug. 30, 2020

The annual exhibition “Recent Acquisitions” showcases 25 portraits to recently enter the Portrait Gallery’s renowned collection. Images of individuals who have made an impact in art, business, fashion, media, medicine, music and social justice join more than 23,000 works that recognize individuals who have influenced the history and culture of the United States. Subjects include actors Andy Garcia, Morgan Freeman and Audrey Hepburn, composer Philip Glass and civil rights activist and journalist Ruben Salazar. Portraits of the 2019 American Portrait Gala honorees Frances Arnold, Jeffrey P. Bezos; Earth, Wind & Fire; Lin-Manuel Miranda, Indra Nooyi and Anna Wintour will be on view as part of this exhibition. “Recent Acquisitions” is curated by the Portrait Gallery’s team of art historians.

Portraits of the World: Denmark

Dec. 13, 2019–Oct. 12, 2020

“Portraits of the World: Denmark” will feature the painting “Kunstdommere” (Art Judges) by Michael Ancher (1849–1927), on loan from the Museum of National History in Hillerød, Denmark. The monumental group portrait pays tribute to a tightly knit artists’ community in northern Denmark, which served as the incubator for the Modern Breakthrough in Danish painting. A complementary display of American portraits will highlight the proliferation of artists’ communities in New York City during the first half of the twentieth century, which likewise accelerated the development of modern art in the United States. This exhibition celebrates the third iteration in the museum’s “Portraits of the World” series which previously focused on spotlight works from Switzerland (2017–18) and Korea (2018–19). This exhibition is curated by Curator of Prints and Drawings Robyn Asleson.

John Singer Sargent: Portraits in Charcoal

Feb. 28–May 31, 2020 

At the height of his success as a portraitist, John Singer Sargent (1856–1925) astonished the transatlantic art world by suddenly abandoning oil painting in 1907. For the rest of his life, he explored likeness and identity through the medium of charcoal, producing several hundred portraits of individuals recognized for their accomplishments in fields such as art, music, literature and theater. “John Singer Sargent: Portraits in Charcoal” will be the first exhibition of Sargent’s portrait drawings in over fifty years. This once-in-a-lifetime assemblage of master drawings—many of them from private collections and rarely exhibited—features compelling depictions of an international network of trailblazing men and women who helped define twentieth-century Anglo-American culture. This exhibition is organized by the Morgan Library & Museum, New York, and the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. Richard Ormond is guest curator of the exhibition. The curator of the exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum is Laurel Peterson, Moore Curatorial Fellow, Department of Drawings and Prints. The curator of the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery is Robyn Asleson, Curator of Prints and Drawings.

“Warranted to Give Satisfaction”: Daguerreotypes by Jeremiah Gurney

June 12, 2020–June 6, 2021

In 1840, Jeremiah Gurney abandoned his career as a jeweler to establish one of New York City’s first daguerreotype studios. Despite vigorous competition from rivals such as Mathew Brady, Gurney soon developed his reputation as a leading camera artist whose works were “nearer to absolute perfection” than those of other daguerreotypists. Widely admired for the beautiful, hand-tinted images produced in his studio, Gurney continued to make daguerreotypes until the latter half of the 1850s. This exhibition will feature a selection of daguerreotype portraits by Jeremiah Gurney from the collections of the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum alongside works from several private collections. This exhibition is curated by Senior Curator of Photographs Ann Shumard.

One Life: Will Rogers

June 26, 2020–May 16, 2021        

Humorist Will Rogers was an American original whose insightful commentary and humor were surpassed only by his generosity of self and inestimable goodwill. Born in 1879 in Indian Territory in what became the state of Oklahoma, he was of Native American descent and always proud of his Cherokee ancestry. His career in vaudeville, Hollywood and journalism won him many hearts across the country. Although his talents evolved from unerring cowboy with a lasso, to syndicated columnist, to popular movie star, Rogers was always himself—plainspoken, honest and funny. His enduring legacy survives in a wide array of media, including painted portraits, engaging sculpture, a plethora of caricatures, movie paraphernalia, photographs and film. This exhibition is curated by Historian James Barber. Since 2006, the museum has held seventeen exhibitions in the series “One Life,” which is dedicated to the biography of a single figure.

Her Story: A Century of Women Writers

July 10, 2020–Jan. 10, 2021

Everyone loves a good story. “Her Story: A Century of Women Writers” will highlight 24 noted women writers from the last one hundred years who are represented in the Portrait Gallery’s collection. The authors featured have collectively won every literary award there is, and many of their titles have become classics of American literature. Pulitzer Prize winners alone include Jhumpa Lahiri, Joyce Carol Oates, Marilynne Robinson, Anne Tyler, Alice Walker and Gwendolyn Brooks, the first African American writer to win a Pulitzer and the first black woman elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Another winner, Toni Morrison, also received the Nobel Prize for Literature. This exhibition is part of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative, “Because of Her Story,” and is curated by Portrait Gallery Historian James Barber.


Special Exhibitions Currently on View

On view through Aug. 18, 2019         Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today

On view through Nov. 17, 2019         Portraits of the World: Korea

On view through Jan. 5, 2020             Votes for Women: A Portrait of Persistence

On view through Mar. 8, 2020           In Mid-Sentence

On view through May 17, 2020          One Life: Marian Anderson

On view through May 31, 2020          Women of Progress: Early Camera Portraits

On view through Mar. 20, 2022         Storied Women of the Civil War Era

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National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the history of America through the 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.

The National Portrait Gallery is part of the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture at Eighth and F streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Website: Follow the museum on social media at @NPGFacebookYouTubeInstagramand Tumblr.

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