According to the theory of the six degrees of separation, she is connected to Albert Einstein, Cézanne, Eleanor Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, and U. S. President Ulysses S. Grant. But who is Peggy Bacon? She was a New York artist and talented caricaturist of celebrities and artists.
“Six Degrees of Separation” is a well-known play and a movie about the theory that no more than six acquaintances separate any two people. But, the idea actually originated with Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi.
Premised on the popular game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” in which players try to prove that any actor or actress can be linked to Kevin Bacon in fewer than six steps of film roles, “Six Degrees of Peggy Bacon” is a fun exhibition at the Smithsonian’s Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery at the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture.
“We wanted it to be surprising,” says Mary Savig, the exhibit’s curator and an archives specialist at Archives of American Art. “We chose Peggy Bacon because we knew nobody would know who she is.”
The exhibit is also features the “shrinking world theory” – using social media and technology to show how citizens of the world are now much more connected. Savig cites a study conducted last year by Facebook and the University of Milan that concludes social media has reduced the average degree of relatedness between each person on Earth to a mere 4.74 degrees.
“These documents show exactly how people are personally connected,” Savig says, pointing to a layout of correspondence and photographs connecting Bacon to artists like Andy Warhol, Marcel Duchamp, Janice Lowry, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera.
The exhibition runs through November 4, 2012. Open daily 11:30 a.m.–7:00 p.m. Admission is free.
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