Douglas Newby
Architecturally Significant Homes
Horse & Trolly

History Files

History is filed in so many ways. The history of neighborhoods is exhibited like the rings of a tree. Newspaper files are a treasure trove of illuminating the history and the provenance of houses, architects, and events that shape a city. The hidden artwork stored in museums express the collecting fashion of past eras. A chronological sequence of presidential portraits, whether seen while in line at the original Highland Park Cafeteria, or at the Presidential Portrait Museum in Washington, D.C., provides a synopsis of U.S. history. What a fun surprise to see busts of historical figures at the Royal Academy mined from the archives. This exhibition reminds us how the temporal importance of an individual today fades to memory, while the impact of that person might linger forever. Historical exhibitions can seem like a dreary trudge through time, or like this vibrant collection of portrait sculptures, they can heighten one’s energy and awareness. I am still smiling at the visual of a bust of historic figures mounted on a file cabinet pedestal. Down the hall of the Royal Academy, one can see the retrospective and evolution of self-portraits of Lucian Freud—another march through history. At the National Gallery in a nearby neighborhood, the exhibition of Paul Gauguin portraits provided me the best understanding of Paul Gauguin as an artist in the time period in which he lived. Portraits capture the essence of the moment. Art retrospectives give us our clearest view of history. *History Files
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