Steve Jobs Featured In New Exhibition At National Portrait Gallery

Last week we revealed that Steve Jobs was set to feature in a forthcoming exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, titled “American Cool.”

With the exhibition having now opened, this is the portrait of the Apple co-founder that curators Joel Dinerstein and Frank H. Goodyear III chose to use: an image taken by photographer Charles O’Rear — perhaps most widely known for his digitally augmented “Rolling Hills” background used for Microsoft Windows XP.

The portrait depicts a bearded Jobs from 1981, riding a motorbike between meetings at Apple. Portraits and subjects were selected according to four criteria — that the focus must have made an original artistic contribution, with a signature style; that they must have in some way been rebellious or transgressive; that they must have iconic status; and that they must have left a significant cultural legacy.

(Credit: Blake Patterson)

(Credit: Blake Patterson)

Next to it is a plaque featuring the following summary, transcribed by Blake Patterson of Byte Cellar:

Steve Jobs 1955 – 2011

“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” — the concluding thought in The Whole Earth Catalog — served as Steve Job’s unofficial motto. Drawing inspiration from that bible of the counterculture, Jobs recast how people think about and use technology. As the cofounder of Apple, he worked in the shadow of such behemoths as IBM and Microsoft. Yet, with great nimbleness and much brashness he led an upstart company that transformed the consumer electronics industry with revolutionary products such as the Apple II and Macintosh computers, iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. Jobs was always the face of Apple, and his much-publicized ambition to create more elegant and “user-friendly” devices made him part of a national tradition of inventor-[heroes] dating back to to Thomas Edison. “Think Different,” Apple’s highly successful advertising campaign introduced in 1997, was not only a shrewd marketing slogan but also exemplified Jobs’ relationship with the larger industry. Channeling his inner Steve McQueen, the jeans-wearing executive often raced his motorcycle between meetings during Apple’s early years.

Charles O’Rear (born 1941)
Reproduction print from 1981 original
National Geographic Image Collection, Washington, D.C.

“American Cool” runs through September 7.

Related
  • HerbalEd

    It would have been nice to include the names of the other “American Cool.”

  • HerbalEd

    It would have been nice to include the names of the other “American Cool.”

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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