DC at Night

DC at Night

Monday, June 2, 2014

Portraiture in the Time of TV's Mad Men

Welcome to this week's Monday Must-See post. On Mondays, The Prices Do DC will offer an entry about some current exhibit in DC you should see. Sometimes, we will write the post. Sometimes, it will be taken from another publication. But no matter who is the writer, we believe it will showcase an exhibit you shouldn't miss. 
Hugh Hefner born 1926
Marisol Escobar (born 1930) 
Polychromed wood, 1966–67
In the world of television’s much-loved drama series, “Mad Men,” we enter the age of abstract expressionism. The artwork on the walls in Pete Campbell’s office, hanging in Don Draper’s dining room and dramatically staged behind Roger Sterling’s sofa all drive home the long-held conceit that at the height of the mid-century era, figurative painting, representational art and realism in all of its varieties was in steep decline.
The drips and sprays of a Jackson Pollack are born in an era defined by the Cold War, the uniformity of Levittowns,  and the cropped militaristic hairstyles and gray flannel suits of the “Organization Man.” And every week as the opening credits roll beneath that ominous melody, "Mad Men" viewers are treated to that chill tension of those times as they watch their favorite degenerates, the advertising pitch men of Madison Avenue, toss back their mid-day bourbons.
In the light of the fascination that TV audiences now have for that period, curators David C. Ward, Brandon Brame Fortune and Wendy Wick Reaves of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery have assembled a collection of artworks, depicting the human form and dating from 1945 to 1975, when the New York art world had declared, amidst the ascendency of expressionism, the death of portraiture.

To continue reading this post, which 1st appeared in Smithsonian.Com, click here.

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