Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Art History 101: Portrait vs. Portraiture

Art History will be the theme of many posts in the New Year. Happy 2015, dear color-enthusiasts!

(noun) - Portraits are works of art that record the likenesses of humans or animals that are alive or have been alive. A posthumous portrait (a portrait rendered after the death of the subject) can be achieved by either copying another portrait or following instructions of the person who commissions the work.

Robert Rosenblum as the Marquis de Pastoret
2006 Oil on Linen 40" x 33"
by Kathleen Gilje

Usually, a portrait records the subject's features. A portrait of the art historian Robert Rosenblum (1927-2006) by Kathleen Gilje captures the sitter's face and celebrates his outstanding Ingres scholarship through this appropriation of Ingres' portrait of the Comte de Pastoret (1791-1857). Ingres' portrait was completed in 1826 (Art Institute of Chicago). Gilje's portrait was completed in 2006, several months before Rosenblum's death in December. Robert Rosenblum collaborated on the choice of appropriation.

Here, This Is Stieglitz
1915 brush and ink, pasted printed paper
on paperboard 30" x 20"
by Francis Picabia

Sometimes a portrait includes inanimate objects that refer to the subject's identity. Francis Picabia's portrait of Alfred Stieglitz, C'est Ici Stieglitz/Here is Stieglitz (1915, Stieglitz Collection, Metropolitan Museum of Art) depicts only a broken bellows camera. Stieglitz was a famous photographer, dealer and Georgia O'Keeffe's husband. The early twentieth-century Modernists loved machines and Picabia's affection for the machine and Stieglitz is expressed here.
As you can see, contemporary portraits can vary widely. The media used differs considerably. Ms. Gilje used the traditional portrait materials, oil on canvas; Picabia used more graphic materials and collage in his portrait representing Stieglitz. Both subjects were alive when these portraits were created, saw them, and approved. BBL

1 comment:

  1. The Marquis is quite stiff looking, isn't he? Thanks for the art lesson, Barb!