National Portrait Gallery Announces “Portrait of a Nation: 2022 Honorees,” Exhibition of Newly Commissioned Portraits, To Open Nov. 10

Debut of New Commissions by Contemporary Artists Hugo Crosthwaite, Kenturah Davis, David Hockney, Kadir Nelson, Toyin Ojih Odutola, and Robert Pruitt, and the Premiere of a Newly Acquired Photograph by Ruven Afanador
November 1, 2022
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Three portraits of distinct styles positioned in a row

Credit: (L) “Venus Williams, Double Portrait” by Robert Pruitt, conté crayon, charcoal, pastel and coffee wash on paper, 2022. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Acquired in part through the generosity of Mark D. Ein. Copyright 2022 Robert Pruitt. (C) “José Andrés and the Olla de Barro that Feeds the World” by Kadir Nelson, oil on linen, 2022. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Acquired through the generosity of Teresa Carlson and André Pienaar; Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg’s The Hearthland Foundation; Cheryl and Ron Howard; Patty Stonesifer and Michael Kinsley; The Wilder Family. Copyright 2022 Kadir Nelson. (R) “AVA” by Kenturah Davis, oil stamp on kozo paper, 2022. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Acquired in part through the generosity of Agnes Gund.

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery will present “Portrait of a Nation: 2022 Honorees” Nov. 10, featuring the seven recipients of the museum’s 2022 Portrait of a Nation Awards. Included in the exhibition are newly acquired portraits of honorees José Andrés, Clive Davis, Ava DuVernay, Marian Wright Edelman, Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Serena Williams and Venus Williams. The exhibition premieres six newly commissioned works and one never-before-shown photograph, each by a highly acclaimed contemporary artist. “Portrait of a Nation: 2022 Honorees” will be on view on the museum’s first floor through Oct. 22, 2023. Admission is free. “Portrait of a Nation: 2022 Honorees” is generously supported by NIKE Inc.

“Since 2001, the museum has collected portraits of living sitters and continues to expand its work with contemporary artists,” said Rhea L. Combs, director of curatorial affairs. “We are incredibly fortunate that these artists have agreed to work with the museum to contribute to the visual history of our nation while celebrating this year’s Portrait of a Nation honorees.” 

“Portrait of a Nation: 2022 Honorees” will premiere a new oil-on-linen painting by Kadir Nelson (b. 1974) titled “José Andrés and the Olla de Barro that Feeds the World,” which portrays the renowned culinary entrepreneur and humanitarian. Davis, award-winning producer and music industry executive, will be represented with a rare commission by the British artist David Hockney (b. 1937), who has only taken on one other painting commission during his accomplished career. The acrylic-on-canvas portrait of Davis is the first Hockney painting to enter the Portrait Gallery’s collection. A new work on paper by the California-based artist Kenturah Davis (b. 1984) features an intricate depiction of filmmaker DuVernay, whose interest in moving images and writing is highlighted through the artist’s stamping technique. 

The Portrait Gallery has also commissioned a portrait of the public health expert Fauci by artist Hugo Crosthwaite (b. 1971), first-prize winner of the Portrait Gallery’s 2019 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. The resulting artwork is composed of a stop-motion drawing animation and suite of 19 drawings on paper, seven of which will be on view. Newly commissioned portraits of tennis champions and entrepreneurs Serena Williams and Venus Williams, by New York-based artists Toyin Ojih Odutola (b. 1985) and Robert Pruitt (b. 1975), respectively, will premiere as part of the exhibition. Both are works on paper; Odutola’s drawing offers a close-up of Serena Williams’ strength and optimism, while Pruitt’s life-size double portrait of Venus Williams is embedded with symbolism. “Portrait of a Nation: 2022 Honorees” will also present the Colombia-born artist Ruven Afanador’s (b. 1959) black-and-white photograph of Edelman. The likeness features the civil and children’s rights activist wearing a necklace with portraits of abolitionists Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. 

The newly acquired works contribute to the National Portrait Gallery’s collection of more than 23,000 objects and its history of collaborating with contemporary artists. The “Portrait of a Nation: 2022 Honorees” exhibition is curated by Combs in collaboration with Taína Caragol, curator of painting, sculpture and Latinx art and history, and Leslie Ureña, curator of photographs.

Established in 2015, the Portrait of a Nation Awards honor extraordinary individuals who have made transformative contributions to the United States and its people across all fields of endeavor. The 2022 honorees will be presented with their awards at the ticketed Portrait of a Nation Gala Nov. 12. For more information, visit npg.si.edu/gala.  

National Portrait Gallery

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted story of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the nation’s story.

The National Portrait Gallery is located at Eighth and G streets N.W., Washington, D.C. Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Connect with the museum at npg.si.edu and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

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Concetta Duncan

(202) 633-9989

duncanc@si.edu

Liza Eliano, Brunswick
(646) 894-1574
leliano@brunswickgroup.com 

Exhibitions