(MAM) & Yard School of Art offer American, Native American, & contemporary art exhibitions, programs, & classes in NJ

What is Portraiture?

Alice Neel (1900-1984), Isabel Bishop, 1974, oil on canvas. Montclair Art Museum. Museum purchase; National Endowmen for the Arts Museum Purchase Plan, 1977.43.

Start Date: 
September 23, 2010
End Date: 
November 5, 2011

The works in this permanent collection exhibition were selected to challenge and extend conventional concepts of portraiture. A portrait is usually considered to be an artistic representation of a person, in which the face and its expression is predominant in order to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the sitter who is shown in a still position. Although a number of the works on view focus on a single person in stasis, others feature multiple figures in action. Furthermore, historical, modern, and contemporary American and Native American works in a variety of mediums are organized into several broad thematic sections.

 

Portraits of artists, heroes, leaders, and thinkers are differentiated from other images of men and women. Portrayals of children constitute another group and complement a section celebrating a sense of interconnectedness as found in relationships between friends, family, and community members. The usual definition of portraiture is particularly extended in the final section of this exhibition, featuring works with multiple figures that address a significant range of historical and religious subjects.