Skip to main content

John Updike

Artist
Robert Vickrey, 26 Aug 1926 - 17 Apr 2011
Sitter
John Hoyer Updike, 18 Mar 1932 - 27 Jan 2009
Date
1968
Type
Painting
Medium
Watercolor, gouache and graphite pencil on paperboard
Dimensions
Image: 34.9 × 23.6 cm (13 3/4 × 9 5/16")
Sheet: 44.8 × 33.6 cm (17 5/8 × 13 1/4")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time magazine
Restrictions & Rights
© Robert Vickrey/Licenced by VAGA, New York, NY
Object number
NPG.78.TC798
Exhibition Label
Born Reading, Pennsylvania
Throughout his prolific writing career, John Updike explored “the three great secret things” in human experience: sex, religion, and art. His award-winning novels and short stories are as remarkable for their stylistic perfection as for the messy human relationships they portray in middle-class suburban communities. His first important novel, Rabbit, Run (1960), details the sexual adventures of aging former athlete Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom. Despite his publisher’s fears of an obscenity prosecution, the novel garnered acclaim, and Updike continued Angstrom’s story in three subsequent novels—two of them Pulitzer Prize winners. Updike created a national sensation in 1968 with his novel Couples, set in “the post-pill paradise” of an Eastern seaboard town, where spouse-swapping and the hedonistic pursuit of sexual liberation create spiritual and psychological turmoil. The book’s notoriety inspired Time magazine to put this portrait of the author on its cover, along with a banner heralding “The Adulterous Society.”
Nacido en Reading, Pensilvania
A lo largo de su prolífica carrera como escritor, John Updike exploró “los tres grandes secretos” de la experiencia humana: el sexo, la religión y el arte. Sus galardonadas novelas y cuentos cortos se destacan tanto por su perfección estilística como su representación de las complejas relaciones humanas en las comunidades suburbanas de clase media. Su primera novela importante, Rabbit, Run (1960), detallaba las aventuras sexuales del envejecido exatleta Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom. A pesar de los miedos de su editor porque se lo acusara de obscenidad, la novela recibió elogios y Updike continuó la historia de Angstrom en tres libros posteriores, dos de ellos ganadores del premio Pulitzer. Updike creó una sensación nacional en 1968 con su novela Couple, ambientada en el “paraíso pospíldora” de un pueblo costero del Este, donde el intercambio de esposas y la persecución hedonista de la liberación sexual genera una confusión espiritual y psicológica. La notoriedad del libro inspiró a la revista Time a colocar este retrato del autor en su portada, junto con el título “La sociedad adúltera”.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
Exhibition
20th Century Americans: 1960-2000
On View
NPG, South Gallery 342