Artistic Moment




The lush colors of crabapple and cherry blossoms bursting into bloom in New York City’s Riverside Park inspired artist Jon Friedman to create this painting, “Crescendo,” in the 1990s. The piece, on loan to NIH, now resides in a sunlit stairwell in Building 49 on the NIH Bethesda campus.

Friedman has painted portraits of some of NIH’s leaders including Harold Varmus, who was both the director of NIH (1993–1999) and of the National Cancer Institute (2010–2015), and Carl Kupfer, who was the first director of the National Eye Institute (1970–2000).

Painting of Harold Varmus in front of another painting (see caption)


This portrait of Harold Varmus, who was the director of NIH from 1993 to 1999, hangs in Building One. The image in the background is Jacques Louis David’s famous painting of the 18th century French chemist Antoine Lavoisier and his young wife Marie. Varmus feels a strong attachment to both the subject and the painting, and specifically requested that Friedman use it as the background for the portrait. Friedman did two other portraits of Varmus—one when he was the director of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City (2000–2010) and the other when he was the director of the National Cancer Institute (2010–2015). Varmus was a co-recipient (with Michael Bishop) of the 1989 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the “discovery of the cellular origin of retroviral oncogenes.”


painting of Carl Kupfer.


Portrait of Carl Kupfer, the first director of the National Eye Institute (1970–2000).

To see Friedman’s other work, go to