The National Portrait Gallery this evening had a party to celebrate the opening of "The Black List," an exhibition of photographs of notable black Americans, all of them shot by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. The event was courtesy of AT&T. I went with my sister-in-law, Martha Joynt Kumar and her husband, Vijay Kumar. Martha is a presidency scholar, so after we looked at the principal exhibition we visited the adjacent galleries to view the portraits of former U.S. presidents.
THE ENTRANCE TO "THE BLACK LIST" EXHIBITION
Of course the 18th and 19th century paintings are compelling, but of the contemporary works I was surprised by the paintings I liked the best: Richard Nixon, George Bush and George W. Bush. Not surprised so much for political reasons -- the portraits are not political -- but the demeanor of the men portrayed. Nixon's portrait is by Norman Rockwell. He looks so happy. But then, it was painted in 1968, when everything was on the way up for RMN. There's a large portrait of Bill Clinton by Chuck Close. I wonder if it will stand the test of time?
The party was made special by the presence of a number of the individuals who were the subjects of the photos, including Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker and, of course, phographer Greenfield-Sanders. Also, good wine and food, such as hot soup, fried chicken and make-your-own ham biscuits.
For more on "The Black List" exhibition, please read this piece by my Washingtonian colleague, Sophie Gilbert, here.