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Visual Arts

New exhibit at National Portrait Gallery exudes cool

From Walt Whitman to Jay-Z, 100 ‘cultural rebels’ selected

Frank Sinatra, 1956, by Herman Leonard. Sinatra is one of 100 people/photos selected by the National Portrait Gallery for the exhibit "American Cool."
Frank Sinatra, 1956, by Herman Leonard. Sinatra is one of 100 people/photos selected by the National Portrait Gallery for the exhibit "American Cool."
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Flashback to a 1940s jazz club. A saxophonist performs on stage wearing his sunglasses at night. “I’m cool,” he says, relaxed in the moment. Lester Young, the lead saxophonist in Count Basie’s orchestra and soul mate to Billie Holiday, was giving voice to what would become an American and global obsession for cool with a phrase rooted in jazz slang. But what does it mean to say someone is cool? Over the past five years, ...


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