The Washington Post

Robert Weingarten: Should the photographer immortalize Frederick Douglass, Celia Cruz, Samuel Morse, Audie Murphy or Alice Paul?

Photographer Robert Weingarten does wonderful layered portraits of celebrated people from American past and present life.

In conjunction with an upcoming exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution, the National Museum of American History is asking the public to vote on a subject for a special portrait by Weingarten.

A visual biography of dancer Baryshnikov by Robert Weingarten.

The museum has selected Frederick Douglass, Celia Cruz, Samuel Morse, Audie Murphy and Alice Paul as choices for the public vote, which opens Friday at a special Web site.

The museum has also posted a series of biographies of the potential subjects for the public to study. Weingarten asks his subjects, “What makes you who you are?” and incorporates some of those images into the work. The portrait is then built on his computer with images and objects to create the essence of the portrait subject. The new portrait will contain artifacts from the museum’s collection.

“Pushing Boundaries: Portraits by Robert Weingarten,” opens at the International Gallery in the Smithsonian’s Ripley Center on July 2. In the show, 16 visual biographies will include Weingarten’s interpretations of Sandra Day O’Connor, Hank Aaron, Dennis Hopper, Alice Waters, Buzz Aldrin, Quincy Jones, Itzhak Perlman and Sonia Sotomayor. The exhibition will also showcase items from the museum’s Photographic History Collection.


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