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As a portrait artist, Robert McCurdy has painted some of the most famous and visionary people of our time-- the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Toni Morrison. But first he tells them, "It's not about you."

The goal, he says, is to create a photorealistic image with no expression and no implied past or future, so the viewer and the subject can simply encounter one another. The true subject, he says, is the gaze.

See the portraits we discuss on our website: https://npg.si.edu/podcasts/robert-mccurdy-portraits

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