Wednesday, June 4, 2014

In Memoriam: Maya Angelou

Where: National Portrait Gallery

When: through June 12, 2014

I've noticed that when someone famous dies, the National Portrait Gallery will often display a portrait of them (assuming they have one, of course).  It's now Maya Angelou's turn in this melancholy spotlight.  Her portrait was painted by Ross Rossin.  When I went to see it, I thought it was a photograph, but when I went to copy the picture seen at left from the website, I noticed that the blurb said it was a painting.  Two of his other works (Henry Aaron and Morgan Freeman) are across the hallway; I thought they were all photos, but I'm assuming they're actually all paintings.  The realism is incredible; you would swear they were photographs.  They're all giant heads, much larger than life-size.  They're very impressive and imposing - not the sort of thing I'd hang in my home, but they work very well in a museum setting.

Maya Angelou was a multi-talented woman: she was a singer, a poet and a writer of memoirs.  The wall notes indicate that although her memoirs might not be strictly accurate, they were a "retelling of emotional truths."  I'm not sure at what point your liberties with actual events take you out of the realm of memoir and into the realm of fiction, but I'm guessing Angelou was well on the non-fiction side of the line.

Verdict:  It's a shame that it was only after her death that I saw this painting; I'll keep my eye out for more Rossin works in future.

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