Underwood Gets Hung, not Hanged

There are a lot of folks in the fictional D.C. of House of Cards that would like to hang the incorrigible Frank Underwood, but the real-life Smithsonian Institution has beaten them to it.

The National Portrait Gallery, which claims the only complete collection of presidential portraits outside of the White House itself, is adding a new one: Frank Underwood.

Kevin Spacey, who stars as the corrupt Underwood, president in Netflix's House of Cards political drama, showed up in character at the Gallery in Washington Monday for the  unveiling of the portrait, joined by Gallery Director Kim Sajet and British artist Jonathan Yeo.

Spacey and Yeo have collaborated before. Yeo painted Spacey as another evil ruler, Richard III, which was shown at London's National Portrait Gallery.

The U.S. National Gallery requested that Yeo paint Spacey as Underwood for exhibition, according to Netflix.

Spacey/Underwood is depicted at his faux Oval Office desk.

“I’m pleased that the Smithsonian continues to prove itself as a worthwhile institution,” Netflix said Spacey commented Underwood during the unveiling. “I’m one step closer to convincing the rest of the country that I am the President.”

“We were captivated by Jonathan’s bold idea to depict Kevin Spacey as Frank Underwood, which also reflects the changing way in which people consume media," Said Sajet by way of explaining how the actor-as-President got the exclusive wall space. "Now, ‘binge watching’ television has put control into the hands of consumers, who can watch their favorite shows

at their leisure. Not only does it reflect the impact of popular contemporary culture on America’s story but it also exemplifies the fine art tradition of actors portrayed in their roles."

The painting will be term-limited, hanging in the gallery starting Wednesday, Feb. 24, through October.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.