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W E D N E S D A Y

Andy Warhol’s bullet- and surgery-ravaged torso was one of few subjects to wriggle out from under Richard Avedon’s ever-aestheticizing gaze. The picture seemed to warn that artifice and style will only get you so far. Visitors to the National Museum of American Art’s “American Photographs: The First Century” will discover that the photo has a forefather of sorts in William Bell’s 1865 General H.A. Barnum, Recovery After a Penetrating Gunshot Wound…, which shows the soldier, shot through the waist, standing before a mirror so that both entrance and exit wounds can be examined. Though the picture obeys conventions of parlor portraiture, Bell’s motives weren’t chiefly artistic. As the Army Medical Museum’s first photography department head, he was merely cataloging the unrelenting variety of war’s violations of the body. Senior curator Merry Foresta discusses the picture at 1 p.m. in the Museum of American Art Lobby, 8th & G Sts. NW. FREE. (202) 357-2700. (GD)