"Eye Contact: Modern American Portrait Drawings from the National Portrait Gallery" Opens May 25, 2002

Release date: 
April 8, 2002

FORT WORTH, Texas --- "Eye Contact: Modern American Portrait Drawings from the National Portrait Gallery," a major traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian gallery's collection, opens May 25, 2002, at the Amon Carter Museum. The exhibition features 50 of the gallery's most significant works on paper. "Eye Contact" introduces life portraits of renowned Americans from politicians and inventors to writers, artists and musicians and highlights the work of such artists as Mary Cassatt, Edward Hopper, Stuart Davis, Jacob Lawrence and Andy Warhol. It is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, edited by exhibition curator Wendy Wick Reaves. This exhibition has been organized by the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

The exhibition-the second traveling exhibition to be held at the Carter since it reopened last October-showcases aesthetic masterpieces that have been assembled since the National Portrait Gallery's collection originated in 1964. Encompassing a variety of media, including watercolors, pastels, charcoals and pen and ink drawings, most of these images are unfamiliar to the public.

"A good portrait is like a biography of a subject," says Amon Carter Museum Director Rick Stewart. "It shows not only the realistic aspects of a person, but it hints also at the invisible qualities that make that person truly individual. I hope everyone has the opportunity to see the outstanding portraits in this exhibition. It is portraiture at its very best."

"'Eye Contact' provides a unique opportunity for people to see the finest drawings in the National Portrait Gallery collection," adds Marc Pachter, director of the gallery. "This is the first time we have assembled such a wide-ranging selection of drawings, which includes an array of modern American personalities."

"Eye Contact" examines the diversity of portraiture and includes such classic images as Luther "Bill Bojangles" Robinson by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld and William Zorach's pen-and-ink image of a young Edna St. Vincent Millay just after she won the Pulitzer Prize. The oldest piece in the exhibition, a watercolor self-portrait of Mary Cassatt, dated from the 1880s.

An exhibition organized from the Carter's print collection, "Striking Likeness: Portrait Prints from the Permanent Collection," will be on display in conjunction with "Eye Contact." With works from the late 19th to the mid-20th century, the exhibition brings together more than 40 portraits, self-portraits and group portraits. Mary Cassatt, James McNeill Whistler, John Sloan and George Bellows are among the artists whose works will be on view. Highlights include portraits of such well-known individuals as actor Paul Robeson and former slave turned activist, Sojourner Truth. Also included in the exhibition are self-portraits by Milton Avery, Thomas Hart Benton and Rockwell Kent, who probed their identities as artists through printmaking.

Related Programming

Free admission. All programs at the Amon Carter Museum.


Sunday, June 2, 2002, 3-4 p.m.
"Eye Contact: The Tradition of Twentieth-Century Portraiture"
Wendy Wick Reaves, Curator of Prints and Drawings, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Film Series: Portraits in Film

Thursday evenings at 5:30 p.m.

  • June 6, 2002
    "Edward Hopper: The Silent Witness," directed by Wolfgang Hastert, 1995, USA, 45 minutes
  • June 20, 2002, Double Feature:
    "Roy Lichtenstein: Reflections," produced by Edgar B. Howard, 1989, USA, 30 minutes
    "The Drawings of Roy Lichtenstein," directed by Edgar B. Howard and Seth Schneidman, 1987, USA, 20 minutes
  • July 18, 2002
    "Ken Burns' America: Thomas Hart Benton," directed by Ken Burns, 1988, USA, 86 minutes
  • August 1, 2002
    "Great Women Artists: Mary Cassatt," produced by Kultur International Films, 2000, USA, 45 minutes
  • August 15, 2002 "John Marin's New York," directed by Lou Tyrrell, 1993, USA, 32 minutes

Gallery Talks

Thursdays, 12:15–12:45 p.m.

  • July 25, 2002
    "Aspects of American Portraiture", Dr. Mark Thistlethwaite, Kay and Velma Kimbell Chair of Art History, TCU
  • August 8, 2002
    "The Sun Girl, Two Interpretations: Agnes Meyer, Edward Steichen, and Marius De Zayas", Jane Myers, Chief Curator, and Barbara McCandless, Curator of Photographs

Children's Film Series: The Amazing Lives of American Artists

Fridays, 2:00 p.m.
Each program includes an introduction to the film and a discussion following. Adults are asked to accompany groups of children to the films.

June 14

  • "Mary Cassatt: American Impressionist," directed by Richard Mozer, 1999, USA, 60 minutes.

June 21, Double Feature

  • "Jacob Lawrence: The Glory of Expression," directed by David Irving, 1996, USA, 28 minutes.
  • "Jacob Lawrence: Intimate Portrait," directed by Grover Babcock and Elvin Whitesides, 1993, USA, 25 minutes.

Special Lectures

Tuesdays, 1 p.m., by Dr. Mark Thistlethwaite, Kay and Velma Kimbell Chair of Art History, TCU

  • July 9, 2002
    "'The Most Important Step': Drawing the Human Figure"
  • July 16, 2002
    "The Persistence of Portraiture"
  • July 23, 2002
    "The Artist Gazing at the Artist"
  • July 30, 2002
    "The Abstract Portrait"
  • August 6, 2002
    "After Modernism: The Postmodernist Portrait"