Monday, February 10, 2014

Portrait Gallery: A Very Cool Exhibit!

I met my friends George and Sue at the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery to view "American Cool." George was accompanied by his friends George II and his wife Debbie.

The exhibit was fantastic!  But there was much too much to digest. One must return again and again. It was interesting to reflect on the choices of the "cool Americans" and to read the thought-provoking descriptions of each. And the photographic portraits were, of course, excellent.

What do we mean when we say that someone is cool? 

"Cool carries a social charge of rebellious self-expression, charisma, edge and mystery."

From the website:

American Cool” is a photography and cultural studies exhibition featuring portraits of such iconic figures, each of whom has contributed an original artistic vision to American culture symbolic of a particular historical moment. They emerged from a variety of fields: art, music, film, sports, comedy, literature, and political activism. “American Cool” is the zeitgeist taking embodied form. 

“American Cool” is captured by a roll call of fine-art photographers from Henri Cartier-Bresson to Annie Leibovitz, from Richard Avedon to Herman Leonard to Diane Arbus.

Who was considered cool by the curators of this exhibit?
Fred Astaire
Bix Beiderbecke
Louise Brooks
James Cagney
Frederick Douglass
Greta Garbo
Ernest Hemingway
Zora Neale Hurston
Jack Johnson
Duke Kahanamoku
Buster Keaton
H.L. Mencken
Georgia O’Keeffe
Dorothy Parker
Bessie Smith
Willie “The Lion” Smith
Mae West

Walt Whitman
Bert Williams
Lauren Bacall
James Baldwin
Humphrey Bogart
Marlon Brando
Lenny Bruce
William S Burroughs
Raymond Chandler
Gary Cooper
Miles Davis
James Dean
Duke Ellington
Dizzy Gillespie
Woody Guthrie
Audrey Hepburn
Billie Holiday
Jack Kerouac
Gene Krupa
Robert Mitchum
Thelonius Monk
Anita O’Day
Charlie Parker
Jackson Pollock
Elvis Presley
Frank Sinatra
Barbara Stanwyck
Muddy Waters
John Wayne
Hank Williams
Lester Young
Muhammad Ali
James Brown
Jim Brown
Johnny Cash
Angela Davis
Joan Didion
Faye Dunaway
Bob Dylan
Clint Eastwood
Walt Frazier
Marvin Gaye
Deborah Harry
Jimi Hendrix
Bruce Lee
Steve McQueen
Bill Murray
Paul Newman
Jack Nicholson
Bonnie Raitt
Lou Reed
Carlos Santana
Patti Smith
Susan Sontag
Hunter S Thompson
John Travolta
Andy Warhol
Malcolm X
Frank Zappa
Afrika Bambaataa
Jean-Michel Basquiat
David Byrne
Kurt Cobain
Johnny Depp
Missy Elliott
Tony Hawk
Chrissie Hynde
Steve Jobs
Michael Jordan
Willie Nelson
Susan Sarandon
Tupac Shakur
Sam Shepard
Bruce Springsteen
Jon Stewart
Quentin Tarantino
Benicio del Toro
Tom Waits
Neil Young

After viewing the exhibit, George treated us all to lunch at Bistro d'Oc to celebrate Sue's 36th (?) birthday.

George I, Debbie, Christine, Sue, George II

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