For almost 100 years, TIME Magazine’s covers have chronicled the newsworthy faces affecting American life. The photographs and original artworks commissioned to look out from the distinctive red border have featured the heroes, villains, politicians, and popular figures of the day, including Hollywood stars, recording artists, authors, and others from the art and entertainment worlds. A new exhibit opening April 1 at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery will let visitors look close up at celebrity portraits that were created for the cover of TIME.
The Hollywood and TIME: Celebrity Covers exhibition will feature more than 30 artworks from the Washington, D.C., gallery’s TIME Magazine collection. The exhibit includes paintings, sculptures, and other artworks that have graced the periodical’s cover.
On display will be creative images of acting stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep, Barbra Streisand, and others. There will also be studio honchos and directing greats like Cecil B. de Mille, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, and Howard Hughes. The Hollywood and TIME: Celebrity Covers exhibition will be on display through Sept. 11.
From its inaugural issue in 1923, TIME began a tradition of commissioning an original portrait for its cover image each week. The magazine gave the National Portrait Gallery approximately 800 original works created as cover art in 1978. The Smithsonian collection of TIME portraits has now grown to over 2,000 pieces that have been showcased in various exhibits at the National Portrait Gallery.
Three other exhibits or items at the National Portrait Gallery also feature many of today’s top stars of the screen and other aspects of American life. Subjects include Kevin Spacey, Gregory Peck, and a pantheon of other popular names.
Timed with the release of the latest House of Cards season, the gallery has a painting of fictional president Francis J. (Frank) Underwood, Spacey’s character in the series, on view through mid-October. Jonathan Yeo painted the 6-foot by 6-foot artwork.
On April 1, timed with what would have been the late actor’s 100th birthday, the National Portrait Gallery will display an oil painting of Peck. The portrait of the Oscar winner was created by Everett Raymond Kinstler and will be on display until April 10.
Additionally, the museum has its Eye Pop: The Celebrity Gaze exhibit on display until July 10. That show has more than 50 portraits of celebrities from a variety of fields, many of which had not been publicly displayed before the show opened last year. Famous faces displayed in the photos, drawings, paintings, and other artworks include first lady Michelle Obama, actor Brad Pitt, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Laker Kobe Bryant, rapper Eminem, and others.
The National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum are both part of the Smithsonian Museum’s Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture. Congress founded the National Portrait Gallery in 1962 to display works depicting the people in all lines who contributed to the country. Other exhibits feature the largest collection of portraits of Presidents and first ladies outside of the White House.
Written and Edited by Dyanne Weiss
National Portrait Gallery: Hollywood and Time: Celebrity Covers
National Portrait Gallery: About Us
TIME: 90 Years of TIME Cover Stars: The Celebrities Who Defined a Century of Entertainment
Photo of Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture courtesy of Timothy Hursley
Photo of Frank Underwood painting and Kevin Spacey by Paul Morigi courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery