Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hide/Seek at the National Portrait Gallery

Today I went to the National Portrait Gallery to see the controversial exhibition Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture. It has received quite a few rave reviews, e. g.,
Gopnik, B., National Portrait Gallery's 'Hide/Seek' finds a frame for sexual identity, Washington Post, November 5, 2010.

With the possible exceptions of George Bellows, Marsden Hartley, and Andy Warhol, I didn't find paintings particularly interesting. The photography section though was exceptionally strong; among the artists presented were Thomas Eakins, Berenice Abbot, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Carl Van Vechten, Robert Mapplethorpe, and many others; perhaps, not as famous but no less impressive.

Thomas Eakins (1844–1916)
Walt Whitman, 1891
Robert Mapplethorpe (1946–1989)
Self-Portrait, 1988

Berenice Abbott (1998–1991)
Janet Flanner, 1923
Peter Hujar (1934–1987)
Susan Sontag, 1975

Carl Van Vechten (1880–1964)
Hugh Laing and Antony Tudor, 1940
George Platt Lynes (1907–1955)
Marsden Hartley, 1942

Apparently, the show generated a lot of interest: it was rather crowded when I was there, and NPG docents lead tour after guided tour.

'Hide/Seek' visitor comments
Trescott, J., 'Hide/Seek' visitors register their opinions, Arts Post, February, 10, 2011.

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