Our network

The Smithsonian "Black Listed": Black Celebrity Portrait Unveiling | Arts & Culture

Title (Max 100 Characters)

The Smithsonian "Black Listed": Black Celebrity Portrait Unveiling
The Smithsonian "Black Listed": Black Celebrity Portrait Unveiling

Washington, DC-- October 27, 2011.  Portraits of Toni Morrison, Hill Harper, Serena Williams and Sean “Diddy” Combs and other prominent African American figures are on display at the National Portrait Gallery as part of The Black List exhibit through April 2012, part of a larger project that includes a book, museum tour and three HBO documentaries. The exhibit features 50 portraits of prominent African Americans from different fields ranging from entertainment to medicine to politics. 

The collection, which opened last night in Washington, includes 50 large-scale images of figures in the project conceived by photographer/filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, with Elvis Mitchell, public radio host and former New York Times film critic.  When you walk into the exhibit Toni Morrison's larger than life portrait greets you as you enter.  It's only fitting since her 2006 conversation with Greenfield-Sanders provided the initial creative spark for the project as well as gave it credibility.  Saunders and Mitchell came up with the list of people whom they believed would represent the African-American experience in the 20th century. Check out the video above of interviews of honoree Actor/Author Hill Harper and guest speakers Oscar winning Forest Whitaker and DC Mayor Gray.

The projects includes many famous familiar faces but what is unique about the exhibit it also features less know prominent figures making it a very educational exhibit as well.   Patrick Robinson, a California fashion desinger, who may not be well known outside of the fashion world, but in a short time has had many successes in the industry, has served as the head designer for Anne Klein and Gap and then being named one of Vogue's rising stars in 1996.   "We knew we needed to have some celebrities," Greenfield-Sanders told the AP.  "You sell it by having Fishburne and Chris Rock and the other people that draw them in, and then they learn something from these other people."

"The Black List: Volume 1' premiered at Sundance Film Festival in 2008 and then in August of that year on HBO. Two follow up documentaries, “The Black List: Volume 2” and “The Black List: Volume 3” followed in 2009 and 2010, respectively.   Check out more photos from the event after the cut and click here for clips of the documentary on HBO.