Saturday, January 26, 2013

Portraits of President Barack Obama

Where: National Portrait Gallery

When: through February 25, 2013

Timed to coincide with the inauguration, the Portrait Gallery is showing this set of two portraits of Barack Obama, one serious and one smiling.

There's something about larger than life photos that are a bit disturbing to me, but these are very good.  They capture the friendly, approachable side of the President that I think is, in part, responsible for his appeal, along with the serious, it's time to get down to work and act like adults side, that must frequently experience frustration with the political nonsense of Washington.  The artist, Chuck Close, is famous for his large scale heads, and these are certainly large scale!

I was struck by how many people were looking at the portraits - more than I usually see in this museum.  I can only imagine they were tourists in town for the inauguration, who wisely decided to add a day of sightseeing to their trip.  I was happy to see them enjoying themselves at the Smithsonian, posing for photos with the portraits, the way I used to see tourists with those cardboard cutouts of famous politicians by the White House, when I worked in that neighborhood.

Verdict: Easy to add this on to a trip to either the Portrait Gallery or the American Art Museum, and the timing couldn't be better.

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