Jac Lahav, Emily Dickinson, courtesy of the artist

The Great Americans: Portraits by Jac Lahav

Florence Griswold Museum
96 Lyme St.
Old Lyme, Connecticut

Jac Lahav’s portrait series The Great Americans plays off of a 2005 Discovery Channel series that encouraged voters to select the country’s leading figures, past and present. In the contest, media personalities like Oprah Winfrey vied with scientists like Jonas Salk, with Winfrey ousting one of the inventors of the polio vaccine from the top ten. In the series, the artist explores the tension and competition between image and reputation, media fame and history. The larger-than-life portraits depict American icons in unexpected ways through dress and pose, often distorting bodies or altering costumes that we’ve come to see as synonymous with the image of figures like George Washington, for example. Lahav is interested in the concept of layering—how individual and group identity are like an onion skin that we can peel away, but whose transparency allows the whole to assume a larger meaning than its parts. By assembling his own unconventional canon of Great Americans, Lahav exposes the clash of image and substance in our contemporary culture. Staring with figures represented in countless paintings and photos that have shaped our perceptions, some of which the artist incorporates into his compositions, Lahav asks what we can know about people from their portraits. As a further meditation on art’s role in the formation of these perceptions in American culture, Lahav will mine the museum’s permanent collection in a companion exhibition. Lahav lives in Lyme, CT. Exhibitions of his work have appeared or will appear at the Richmond Art Museum, the Saginaw Museum of Art, in Michigan, and the LongView Museum of Fine Art in Texas.

SHOWN: Jac Lahav, Emily Dickinson, courtesy of the artist

Upcoming Events

The Christopher Kennedy Compound: Modernism Week Show House 2019.
  • February 14-24, 2019

Modernism Week in Palm Springs, California, Feb. 14 to 24, 2019

Plan Your Winter Warm-Up in the Desert with Events Celebrating Mid-century Architecture and Design


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Danny Heller, Racquet Club Estates Lounging, 2017, oil on canvas, 33 x 46 inches
  • February 15-18, 2019

Art Palm Springs

Featuring post-war and contemporary art at Palm Springs Convention Center, during Modernism Week


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Judith Godwin, Epic 2, oil on canvas, 95 x 83 inches.
  • February 15 - March 16, 2019
  • New York, New York

Judith Godwin: An Act of Freedom

Berry Campbell Gallery

Berry Campbell
530 West 24 Street
New York, New York


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  • February 23, 2019
  • Lancaster, California

Fairyland by Leonard Greco at MOAH Cedar

MOAH Cedar

Museum of Art and History
665 W. Lancaster BLVD,
Lancaster, California


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Georgie Hopton, The Bonnie Lasses, 2015
  • February 27 - April 5, 2019
  • London, United Kingdom

Georgie Hopton: Within a Budding Grove

Lyndsey Ingram Gallery
20 Bourdon Street
London, United Kingdom


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  • February 28 - March 3, 2019
Ann Christopher Edge of Memory, 2013 Bronze
  • March 1 - May 11, 2019
  • New York , New York

Featured Event

Mary Stevens Fish’s 1879 painting, “Yosemite,” will be on exhibit in “Something Revealed: California Women Artists Emerge, 1860-1960” at the Pasadena Museum of History Sept.  29-March 31.  (Photo courtesy of Maurine St.  Gaudens and Joseph Morsman).
Something Revealed; California Women Artists Emerge, 1860-1960
Pasadena History Museum
September 29, 2018 - March 31, 2019
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