Cultural concepts are always fuzzy, but that doesn’t make them useless. We may never know the exact beginning or end of Romanticism or the Gilded Age, or where lies the line between art and entertainment, or what distinguishes great talent from genius. But that doesn’t make those concepts hollow, just fluid and approximate.
A new entertaining and insightful exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery confronts one of the most dynamic and hard to define concepts in American cultural life — the cool. “American Cool” broaches its subject through photographs of people who helped define and embody the cool since before the idea had even taken definite form, to the current day when it is highly questionable if the “cool” is still meaningful.
If you want to continue reading this article by Philip Kenicott which 1st appeared in The Washington Post, click here.