City Life Org – The National Portrait Gallery presents “Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue”

“Watergate Breaks Wide Open” by Jack Davis, watercolor and ink on cardboard, 1973. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift from TIME magazine. By Jack Davis

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Watershed Moment, on view from March 25 to September 25. 5

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery will present “Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue,” an exhibition exploring the 50th anniversary of the watershed moment through portraiture of the time. The exhibition will feature 25 objects in various mediums ranging from fine art to pop culture to explore the relationship between portraiture, investigative journalism, activism and politics. “Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue” is curated by the Portrait Gallery‘s Acting Senior Historian, Kate Clarke Lemay, and will be on view from March 25 to September 5 as part of the museum’s “One Life” series.

A press preview with Lemay will be held Thursday, March 24, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. RSVP to [email protected] Proof of vaccination or a negative result of a PCR or antigen test performed within 24 hours prior to the event is required.

The June 17, 1972 break-in at the Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate Complex quickly escalated into a political and legal crisis that reached the highest levels of the United States government, including President Richard M. Nixon . The word “Watergate” has come to mean the burglary itself, the subsequent cover-up of White House complicity, and Nixon’s use of federal agencies to obstruct justice. The relentless media attention on Watergate culminated in the summer of 1974 with Nixon’s resignation. TIME The magazine alone has dedicated over 40 cover stories – and portraits – related to the Watergate scandal to the scandal, 12 of which are included in the exhibit.

“The nation has been fascinated by Watergate for over 50 years,” Lemay said. “The incident and its aftermath have evolved over the ensuing decades into a uniquely American meme, bolstered by depictions in film and pop culture and a regular reference in modern political discourse.” Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue examines the crisis and its contributors through the lens of artists and critics of its time.

The list of people involved on both sides of Watergate is long and winding, but intense media coverage and absorbing depictions by political cartoonists, illustrators and contemporary artists helped audiences digest the events as they unfolded. they were unfolding. This exhibition brings visitors face to face with the characters of the event through portraits of various mediums from the collection of the National Portrait Gallery. Besides the former president, the exhibit features portraits of those involved in the scandal and subsequent investigations, including Mark Felt, Barry Goldwater, Katherine Graham, Barbara Jordan, John Mitchell and Rose Mary Woods. The exhibit also highlights stories that unfolded on the fringes of the scandal, including that of Martha Mitchell, wife of then-Attorney General John Mitchell, who was kidnapped on the orders of her husband in the early days following burglary.

“Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue” features the work of artists Richard Avedon, Marisol Escobar, George Guisti and Dirck Halstead and illustrators and political cartoonists of the day, including Jack Davis, Patrick Oliphant and Edward Sorel. The exhibition continues the Portrait Gallery’s “One Life” series dedicated to the biography of a single figure, theme or moment in time since 2006.

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery tells the multifaceted history of the United States through the individuals who have shaped American culture. Spanning the visual arts, performing arts and new media, the Portrait Gallery portrays poets and presidents, visionaries and villains, actors and activists whose lives tell the story of the nation.

The National Portrait Gallery is located at Eighth and G Streets NW, Washington, DC Smithsonian Information: (202) 633-1000. Connect with the museum at and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Julia P. Cluff