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Chicago artist’s painting of Oprah Winfrey was on display at the Portrait Gallery


As if Oprah Winfrey needed any more immortalization. The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery on Wednesday unveiled a portrait of Winfrey by Chicago artist Shawn Michael Warren to become part of the museum’s permanent collection.

The painting will be on display Wednesday, following a ceremonial unveiling hosted by Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch, National Portrait Gallery Director Kim Sajet, and Warren and Winfrey themselves. It will be exhibited on the first floor of the museum in Washington, DC.

The full-length portrait, oil on linen, is described as approximately 6 feet 10 inches tall in a notice from the National Portrait Gallery and depicts Winfrey in a purple taffeta dress in the garden of her home in Montecito, California. In the picture, he is holding a branch of an olive tree in his hand; purple is an homage to Alice Walker’s novel “The Color Purple” and Winfrey’s breakthrough role in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 film adaptation.

Warren was named to the commission after working on Winfrey’s mural next to an apartment building overlooking Green Street in the West Loop. This mural was painted in 2020 by artists Warren, Jane Barthes, Anna Murphy and Kalan Strauss as a tribute to the former Harpo Studios campus a few blocks away, where the “Oprah Winfrey Show” was hosted from 1990 to 2011.

Born in Chicago, Warren graduated from the city’s American Academy of Arts as well as the Florence Academy of Art in Italy. where he works defined as realism He was influenced by Renaissance painters. His subjects include Martin Luther King Jr. and narrative events such as the Great Migration. Murals can also be seen in Los Angeles and Indianapolis.

The commission is part of the museum’s ongoing efforts to add portraits of living individuals who shaped American history and culture, according to the announcement. More information at: npg.si.edu.



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