Saturday, June 21, 2014

American Cool at the National Portrait Gallery

I forgot, I also saw the exhibition "American Cool" at The National Portrait Gallery. A collection of photographs of iconic figures in American popular culture, it featured wonderful images of people like Jimi Hendrix, Debby Harry, Patti Smith, and Lou Reed. It was very enjoyable.

The Gallery press writes: "Cool is a supreme compliment that evokes people who exude rebellious self-expression, charisma, edge, and mystery. It is an original American sensibility and remains a global obsession. In the early 1940s, legendary jazz saxophonist Lester Young brought this central African American concept into the modern vernacular, and it became a password in bohemian life connoting a balanced state of mind, a laid-back artistic mode of performance, a certain stylish stoicism. Cool has been embodied in such  jazz musicians as Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, and Dizzy Gillespie; in such actors as Louise Brooks, Robert Mitchum, and Steve McQueen; in such rock and rollers as Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, and Patti Smith; and in many others from the worlds of literature, art, comedy, sports, and political activism. American Cool refers to those who have contributed an original artistic vision to American culture symbolic of a given historical moment."

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