‘We’re Just So Crazy in Love With Her We Had to Do It!’: The National Portrait Gallery Acquires a Portrait of Beyoncé

The portrait originally appeared on the cover of Vogue.

Queen Bey performing at the Super Bowl in 2013.(Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
Queen Bey performing at the Super Bowl in 2013. Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage.

Alert the Bey-hive: the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, has confirmed that it is acquiring photographer Tyler Mitchell’s portrait of Beyoncé, which originally appeared on the cover of Vogue.

Mitchell became the first black photographer to shoot a cover for Vogue magazine’s coveted September issue last year, and the 24-year-old artist marked the one-year anniversary with another headline-making announcement:

“A year ago today we broke the flood gates open,” Mitchell wrote on Twitter. “Now I’m glad to share this picture is being acquired into the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection.”

The museum responded in a Tweet:We’re just so crazy in love with her that we had to do it!”

The museum’s associate curator of photography, Leslie Ureña, confirmed the news. “We are thrilled to acquire this magnificent portrait of Beyoncé,” she said in a statement. “This acquisition will allow us to document a significant shift in the history of fashion photography through the depiction of a key figure in American culture.”

Ureña went on to quote Beyoncé’s own words from the Vogue issue, in which she said, “‘Until there is a mosaic of perspectives coming from different ethnicities behind the lens, we will continue to have a narrow approach and view of what the world actually looks like. That is why I wanted to work with this brilliant 23-year-old photographer Tyler Mitchell.’”

At the museum, Mitchell’s photograph of Knowles will join a 2003 poster promoting her album Dangerously in Love, making it the second portrait of the singer in the permanent collection of “23,000 likenesses of figures who have altered the course of American history,” according to Ureña.

Bey and her husband, Jay-Z, are also no strangers to museums. Last year they took over the Louvre in Paris to film their music video, “Apeshit,” sparking so much interest that the museum launched a special tour leading visitors around to each of the artworks referenced in the video.

Portrait Gallery staff curators have yet to decide when and where the work will go on view. But when that does happen, expect visitors to go apeshit.


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