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Return to previous pagePast Exhibition

Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture
October 30 through February 13, 2011

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Hide/Seek: Addressing (and Redressing) the Silence: New Scholarship in Sexuality and American Art

Saturday, January 29, 2011 | 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.


Smithsonian Stands Firmly Behind "Hide/Seek" Exhibition

Smithsonian Q&A Regarding the "Hide/Seek" Exhibition


This is the first major museum exhibition to focus on sexual difference in the making of modern American portraiture. “Hide/Seek” considers such themes as the role of sexual difference in depicting modern America; how artists explored the fluidity of sexuality and gender; how major themes in modern art—especially abstraction—were influenced by social marginalization; and how art reflected society’s evolving and changing attitudes toward sexuality, desire, and romantic attachment.

The exhibition begins with late nineteenth-century works by Thomas Eakins and John Singer Sargent and charts the twentieth century with major works by such American masters such as Romaine Brooks, Marsden Hartley, and Georgia O’Keeffe. The exhibition arcs through the postwar period with major paintings by Agnes Martin, David Hockney, Jasper Johns, and Andy Warhol. It continues through the end of the twentieth century with works by Keith Haring, AA Bronson, and Felix Gonzalez-Torres about life, love and death during the AIDS crisis, and charts the vigorous reassertion of lesbian and gay civil rights in the twenty-first.

A 304-page catalog titled Hide/Seek Difference and Desire in American Portraiture has been authored by the exhibition co-curators, David C. Ward, National Portrait Gallery historian, and Jonathan Katz, director of the doctoral program in visual studies, State University of New York at Buffalo. The catalog will be published by Smithsonian Books and distributed by Random House; it will be on sale for $45.

The exhibition has been made possible by The Calamus Foundation with the leadership contributions of Donald A. Capoccia and Tommie L. Pegues, and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Major support is provided by the John Burton Harter Charitable Trust, E*TRADE, Ella Foshay, Vornado/Charles E. Smith, the Wyeth Foundation for American Art, Catherine V. Dawson, Robby Browne and Madison Cumnock, The Durst Organization, Ashton Hawkins and Johnnie Moore, The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, Occasions Caterers, the David Schwartz Foundation, Frank J. Sciame, Jonathan Sheffer and Christopher Barley, and Jon Stryker. Additional significant support is provided by many generous friends of the National Portrait Gallery, including Tonio Burgos and Associates, Cambria Estate Winery, Lisa and Porter Dawson, Craig Kruger and Eric Michael, the Toby D. Lewis Philanthropic Fund, The Morrison & Foerster Foundation, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, David von Storch, Alexander and Bonin, H. van Ameringen Foundation, Lisa Bodager and Rebecca Linder, the David Bohnett Foundation, Dan Critchett and Greg Slimko, Mr. and Mrs. James R. Doty, Charles C. Francis, Sidney Lawrence and Thomas Birch, Weston F. Milliken, Leo Mullen and Helene Patterson, the Jerome Robbins Foundation, James Sharp Brodsky and Philip E. McCarthy II, William Sofield, Peter and Barbara Thompson, Paul Travis & Mark Fichandler, Paul Washington and Stan Sagner, and Diane Wondisford.

This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.


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