Saturday, September 14, 2013

Mr. TIME: Portraits by Boris Chaliapin

Where: National Portrait Gallery

When: through January 5, 2014

TIME magazine used to feature artwork on its cover, not photography, as we generally see today, but a reproduction of a painting of one of the people discussed in the issue.  Although the magazine used many artists to create its cover art, Boris Chaliapin earned the moniker of Mr. TIME, as he created over 400 covers.  Part of the reason he was tapped so frequently was that he could create a cover in a matter of a few days.  Once, he was able to knock out a piece in 12 hours.

This show features 26 of his covers, and not only displays his work over the course of his career with TIME (1942 - 1970), but also shows who was considered important during that era.  There are politicians and actors, soldiers and religious leaders.  One of his subjects was Julia Child, with whom he became lifelong friends.

What's interesting is not simply the portrait, but also the background.  You don't notice it at first, but it's part of the full picture and well worth noticing.  I learned that Richard Nixon holds the record for most TIME cover appearances at 55.  That's a lot of Nixon.

Verdict: A small show, you could see this and another smaller display in a lunch hour with no problem.  Worth a look, especially if you're interested in prominent figures of the mid-20th century. 

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