Skip to Content

A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Portraits of African Americans: Highlights from the National Portrait Gallery Collection

National Portrait Gallery / Washington, D.C. / Art

In his 1952 novel, The Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison’s unnamed protagonist experiences the restrictions imposed by white society—and his rejection from it—as a vanishing. He is a “man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquid,” and yet, he says, “I am invisible … because people refuse to see me.” In response to historic erasure, this virtual exhibition illuminates several African-American figures and their impact on our nation’s history. Featuring poets like Phillis Wheatley, who spent her young life as a slave, and Langston Hughes, as well as change-makers and politicians such as Frederick Douglass and Michelle Obama, these works assert African-American presence and importance via portraiture. —C.J.F.

National Portrait Gallery 8th St NW & F St NW, Washington, DC 20001, United States
Get Directions »
Start a New Search
Subscribers Only

Start your free trial to access the full Arts Intel Report

Subscribe to Air Mail to access every article
and search our entire Arts Intel Report.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Sign in here.