60 episodes

Art, biography, history and identity collide in this podcast from the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Join Director Kim Sajet as she chats with artists, historians, and thought leaders about the big and small ways that portraits shape our world.

PORTRAITS National Portrait Gallery

    • Arts
    • 4.7 • 173 Ratings

Art, biography, history and identity collide in this podcast from the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Join Director Kim Sajet as she chats with artists, historians, and thought leaders about the big and small ways that portraits shape our world.

    Lincoln Hiding In Plain Sight

    Lincoln Hiding In Plain Sight

    A globe turned to Haiti. A glove on the ground. A life-size portrait of President Abraham Lincoln contains intriguing details that can be read as a freeze-frame of race relations at the time of his assassination. It also may be the most lifelike depiction of the 16th president— standing to his full height and in full color.

    The oil painting by W.F.K. Travers was ‘hidden in plain sight’ for decades at a municipal building in New Jersey. Biographer Ted Widmer played a role in re-discovering the portrait and he speaks with Kim about its place in history.

    Travers’ Lincoln is currently on display at the National Portrait Gallery, on loan from the Hartley Dodge Foundation, and courtesy of the citizens of the Borough of Madison, New Jersey.

    See the portrait here.

    • 24 min
    Social Media And The Subway

    Social Media And The Subway

    There are not many portrait artists who get recognized on the street, but it happens to Devon Rodriguez all the time.

    After quietly honing his skill for a decade, Devon started posting videos of his live drawings of New York City subway commuters to social media. The videos took off, earning him some 50 million followers and placing portraiture in front of a huge new audience.

    Kim speaks with Devon about the mentors who had his back, and this new model for showing art— not in museums, but on screens.

    See the portraits we discussed:

    Kim Sajet, by Devon Rodriguez

    John Ahearn, by Devon Rodriguez

    “The Rodriguez Twins,” by John Ahearn

    María Elena Estrada, by Devon Rodriguez

    Devon Rodriguez draws Kim Sajet, Instagram

    • 20 min
    Copyright vs Copywrong

    Copyright vs Copywrong

    Copyright law is complicated, especially when it comes to visual art. So there was a lot of fanfare around the Supreme Court’s May ruling involving a celebrity portrait photographer, the pop artist Andy Warhol, and an orange silk screen of the late musician Prince. Would the decision give us some clarity around what’s ‘infringing’ in the world of appropriation art?

    Lauryn Guttenplan, former deputy general counsel for the Smithsonian, walks us through some high-profile copyright cases from the past, as well as the Supreme Court’s decision.

    See the artwork we discussed:

    Obama “Hope” Portrait by Shepard Fairey, original photo by Mannie Garcia

    “Canal Zone” Collage by Richard Prince, original photo by Patrick Cariou

    “Orange Prince” by Andy Warhol

    Prince Portrait by Lynn Goldsmith

    • 25 min
    Bonus: The Toxic Book of Faces

    Bonus: The Toxic Book of Faces

    Silhouettes were a hugely popular and democratic form of portraiture in the 19th century. So an old ledger book full of cut paper profiles at the National Portrait Gallery caught a conservator’s eye. It promised a rare glimpse at people from all different backgrounds who lived in early America. It also held a surprise: It was laced with poison.

    Lizzie Peabody, host of the Smithsonian’s Sidedoor podcast, brings us the story of the book, the man who created it, and the web of overlapping stories tucked inside.

    See William Bache’s book of silhouettes here.

    • 33 min
    Me, Online

    Me, Online

    Digital artist Amalia Soto, also known by the username Molly Soda, wants to show us how we portray ourselves, or perform ourselves, online. She says the images and videos we upload don’t necessarily lie, but they do pose questions about the ways we curate our lives for unseen others. She also believes there is a lot we don’t actually control when we hit the ‘post’ button. With Glenn Kaino.

    See the artwork we discussed:

    Who’s Sorry Now? (2017)

    Inbox Full (2012)

    My Apology (2022)

    • 20 min
    ART-ificial Intelligence

    ART-ificial Intelligence

    As AI art gets more and more sophisticated, how do we tell the difference between a portrait that’s created by a human being – with a soul – and art that’s created by a complex algorithm? And if we can’t tell the difference, will artists be out of a job?

    Oxford mathematician Marcus du Sautoy explains how AI art works, and why he thinks code can actually help artists to expand their creative universe.

    But there’s one big question that remains: What does AI art tell us about the inner world of AI itself?

    See the portraits we discussed:

    Edmond de Belamy, published by Obvious Art

    The Next Rembrandt, brainchild of Bas Korsten

    Kim Sajet, generated by AI

    Kim Sajet, by Devon Rodriguez

    You can see Prof. Marcus du Sautoy’s ‘Creativity Code’ lecture here.

    • 23 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
173 Ratings

173 Ratings

Merrimac97 ,

Fascinating!

Love the stories that go with the portraits. The hosts voice is so easy to listen to!

joshtmeadows ,

Fantastic!

A fantastic podcast from an inspirational host and organization. Definitely worth a listen!

JPUphl ,

Another great episode

Thanks Kim for another great episode. Looking forward to the exhibition. Look forward to the new season!

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