current exhibitions
Portrait Competition civil war george washington


All © Andres Serrano

Andres Serrano's America Series
(3:18 min.)


Andres Serrano's America (Bello Nock, "America's Best Clown," Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus)
(0:50 min.)

bello nock

Andres Serrano's America (Firefighter John L. Thomasian)
(1:15 min.)


Andres Serrano (born 1950)

Born in New York CIty, Andres Serrano first studied painting at the Brooklyn Museum School before turning to photography in the late 1970s. SInce that time, his work has been featured in numerous catalogues and nine than a hundred solo exhibitions, including a critically acclaimed retrospective that toured the country in 1995. He is perhaps most well-known for Piss Christ, a photograph that in 1989 precipitated a national debate about free expression and federal funding of the arts. Serrano's interest in portraiture as a means to investigate various tensions in American society has been an important theme and has led him to photograph subjects as diverse as Catholic clerics, members of the Klan, and homeless men and women. A retrospective book, American and Other Work, was published in 2004.

Serrano photographed more than a hundred men, women, and children for his series America. Although these wildly colorful, larger-than-life photographs reveal much about their subjects, they are also shockingly unreal and stymie our attempts to know the figures who are pictured. Capturing likenesses is at the heart of the portrait tradition, yet Serrano is as interested in studying how we each choose to present ourselves as he is in learning who we are. These photographs also represent Serrano's most sustained exploration of this nation and its people, or in his own words, "My America. Without apology or prejudice. One Flag, over all."


related items
A printed transcript of Andres Serrano's discussion is also available here.
     Audio transcript (PDF)

portraiture now
View the Gallery's extensive collection of books and exhibition catalogs. Publications are available through the National Portrait Gallery or the respective publishers.
 View publications list

 npg home | privacy | copyright | si home  

All featured material is copyright © Smithsonian Institution, 2004 except where otherwise noted.
Comments to National Portrait Gallery Webmaster.