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Steve Jobs featured in new 'American Cool' gallery exhibit

updated 06:00 pm EST, Mon February 10, 2014

Part of the US tradition of 'inventor-heros,' captured in pre-Mac era

A rarely-seen picture of Apple co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs is now hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. The image, part of the "American Cool" exhibit, shows a bearded, long-haired Jobs from 1981, riding a motorcycle between meetings on Apple's campus. The photographer responsible for the image, Charles O'Rear, is also well-known for the iconic, digitally-generated "Rolling hills/Teletubbyland" background used for Microsoft's Windows XP.

Jobs' style in the portrait (seen above) is described in the accompanying text as "channeling his inner Steve McQueen," another icon featured in the collection. The exhibit, which focuses on 100 Americans that have fostered a particularly "cool" image that is recognized worldwide, includes other luminaries such as Miles Davis, Marlon Brando, Deborah Harry (of the band Blondie) and poet Walt Whitman, among others.

To qualify for inclusion, candidates had to "carry a social charge of rebellious self-expression, charisma, edge and mystery," the gallery noted. As AppleInsider notes, the concept is not unlike one of Apple's own concepts, the well-regarded "Think Different" ad campaign that inaugurated the second Steve Jobs era of Apple with its "Here's to the crazy ones" mission statement and iconic photographs of various world and American rebels.

In the caption for Jobs' portrait, which was photographed by Byte Cellar's Blake Patterson, the gallery makes reference to Jobs' beloved quote from the Whole Earth Catalog -- "stay hungry, stay foolish" -- that is says "served as [Jobs'] unofficial motto," adding that Jobs led the "upstart" Apple with "great nimbleness and much brashness," drawing inspiration from the counterculture he grew up in and that he "recast how people think about and use technology," leading the company to create such influential and game-changing products as the Apple II, the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad.

Another part of the caption attached to the portrait says that "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-heros 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."

The exhibition will run at the National Portrait Gallery until September 7.

by MacNN Staff





  1. carloblackmore

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 12-28-05

    Cool photo. I'm guessing Thomas Edison's version of American Cool didn't include riding around in a German motor carriage though.

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