WASHINGTON — The National Portrait Gallery unveiled Friday a portrait of Aretha Franklin, which will have an honorary place in the gallery’s “in memoriam” section through Wednesday.
“Works on paper we have to be very careful with; they are more susceptible to damage from light than paintings and sculptures,” said Robyn Asleson, the National Portrait Gallery’s associate curator of prints, drawings and media arts.
The poster of the late Queen of Soul hanging on the gallery’s first floor just off the foyer on the gallery’s G Street side is an original foldout poster from a teen magazine. The image was created by graphic designer Milton Glaser.
“So much power, so much beauty, so much color and dynamism,” Asleson said, describing both Glaser’s art and its subject. “You can just imagine a teenager receiving this magazine in November 1968, opening it up and this explosion of color comes out.”
In late 1968, Franklin was at the pinnacle of her early career, Asleson said.
“We have a national anthem, but I think of Aretha franklin as our national voice. She sang about respect, she sang freedom, she told us to think — all these things we think of as being American, she kind of personified.”