Steve Jobs Was ‘Cool’, According To New Smithsonian Exhibition

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What do Steve Jobs, Tony Hawk, Elvis Presley, and Marlon Brando have in common? All of them qualify as “cool.”

That’s the verdict of the curators of a new exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery — opening Friday — which explores the concept of “American Cool” through some of its most iconic figures.

As an overview of the exhibition explains:

“To govern what seems at first like a highly subjective free-for-all, curators Joel Dinerstein and Frank H. Goodyear III laid down a four-part test for each of the 100 people included. First, they must have made an original artistic contribution, with a signature style; second, they must have in some way been rebellious or transgressive; third, they must have iconic status; and fourth, they must have left a significant cultural legacy.”

Jobs features in the last part of the exhibition, titled “The Legacies of Cool: 1980-present.” His portrait is included alongside the likes of David Byrne, Willie Nelson, and, erm, Jon Stewart. The exhibition runs through September 7.

This isn’t the first time Steve Jobs has been featured at the National Portrait Gallery. In late 2011, a 1982 portrait of Jobs taken by photographer Diana Walker (shown above) was hung at the Washington, D.C. gallery.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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