Beyoncé and Other Iconic Women Take Their Place at the Smithsonian
The glossy 3.5-foot-high portrait from a 2018 Vogue cover story—the singer’s fourth—is historic: It was the first cover shoot in the magazine’s 126-year history to be done by a Black photographer. The artist, Tyler Mitchell, was just 23 when he shot the image titled See Your Halo.
It will likely be one of the most popular, and certainly one of the most recognizable, images in a recently opened showcase of newly acquired works at the National Portrait Gallery, alongside the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who can be seen in a stately 2020 cast made from the 2013 original by Meredith Bergmann, sculptor of the Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument in New York’s Central Park.
When the Portrait Gallery opened more than a half-century ago, just 17 percent of its collection represented women—either as subjects or creators. That number has roughly doubled since then, museum officials say. The new exhibition, “Recent Acquisitions,” does its best to elevate those numbers by concentrating on women subjects and artists.
The 21 recently acquired works in a variety of media, alongside two commissions, showcase what Rhea L. Combs, the museum’s director of curatorial affairs, calls the “diverse contributions by women represented in our collection as artists or as sitters from across disciplines and time periods, as well as the museum’s commitment to telling those wide-ranging stories.”