Steve Jobs Featured In National Portrait Gallery Exhibition Titled “American Cool”

A new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, which explores the concept of “American Cool” through some of its most iconic figures, features the late Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs, CultofMac is reporting. Jobs features in the last part of the exhibition titled “The Legacies of Cool: 1980-present”, with his portrait included alongside the likes of David Byrne, Willie Nelson, and Jon Stewart.

Jobs american cool 600w

Steve Jobs’ portrait (shown above), that depicts a bearded Jobs from 1981 riding a motorbike between meetings at Apple, was chosen by curators Joel Dinerstein and Frank H. Goodyear for the exhibition. The photo was taken by photographer Charles O’Rear, who is most widely known for his digitally augmented “Rolling Hills” background used for Microsoft Windows XP. 

The source details that  all portraits and subjects were selected according to four criteria i.e 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.

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.

The exhibition runs through September 7.

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