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Abíódún, Rowland, and . Àkó-graphy: Òwò Portraits

2013, in: John Peffer and Elisabeth L. Cameron (eds.), Portraiture & Photography in Africa, Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, pp. 287-312.

Summary: Argues that the introduction of photography did not significantly interfere with, or terminate, the àkó legacy of portraiture. Shows instead that the stylistic elements of the àkó life-size burial effigy – a sculpted portrait that attempts to capture the physical likeness, identity, character, social status of a deceased parent – informed the photographic traditional formal portrait in Òwò, Nigeria.

Comment: Useful in discussing portraiture, as well as depiction and representation in general.

Artworks to use with this text:

Mamah, Carved, life-size, fully dressed second-burial effigy for Madam Aládé, EÌpelè- Òwò, Nigeria (1972)

Striking example of the practice. Demonstrates how the àkó tradition appears to have influenced the way elderly people posed for photographs.

Brand, Peg Zeglin, and . Beauty as Pride: A Function of Agency’

2011, APA Newsletter 10(2): 5-9.

Abstract: This is basically a paper about artistic evaluation and how multiple interpretations can give rise to inconsistent and conflicting meanings. Images like Joel-Peter Witkin’s First Casting for Milo (2004) challenge the viewer to look closely, understand the formal properties at work, and then extract a meaning that ultimately asks, Is the model exploited or empowered? Is Karen Duffy, pictured here, vulnerable and “enfreaked” or is she potentially subversive, transgressive, and perhaps self-empowered? I will offer an argument in agreement with artist/author/ performer Ann Millett-Gallant that favors the latter interpretation, but will augment and complicate the issue by also introducing a pointed question or two taken from a recent analysis by Cynthia Freeland on objectification. I judge the works by photographer Joel-Peter Witkin to be representations of disabled persons who are empowered through agency and pride, but I also worry about the risk of multiple, conflicting interpretations on the part of viewers who do not, or cannot, entertain such enlightened readings. Like second wave feminist views about pornography that depicted women in demeaning ways, or feminist critiques of Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party , Witkin’s photos can be judged as potentially offensive. But they are also objects of beauty – both in terms of aesthetic properties (they are magnificent studies in black and white, shadows, the human body, with many classical references) and because of the feeling of beauty and pride felt by the posers, who become performers of their own beauty and pride. I argue that beauty trumps offensiveness. Pride wins. But I’m not sure that everyone will agree.

Comment: Questions the ideal standard of beauty portrayed throughout the history of art, particularly in form of the female nude, and examines works of art that defiantly challenge that ideal. Argues that in certain representations of disabled persons the model is empowered and not exploited and that beauty trumps offensiveness. Pride wins.

Artworks to use with this text:

Joel-Peter Witkin, First Casting for Milo (2004)

Portrait of Irish artist Karen Duffy engaged in a silent performance of 'disarming' Venus. In her own words, she is aiming to 'liberate herself from histories of oppressive representations of women and disabled women in particular.'

Campbell, Shelley, and . Myra: a Portrait of a Portrait

2013, in: Hannah Priest (ed.), The Female of the Species: Cultural Constructions of Evil, Women and the Feminine, Oxford: Inter-disciplinary Press.

Summary: Considers philosophical problems with representation, particularly in regard to the loss of particularity and individuality in instances when an identity takes on symbolic proportions. Hindley, the woman, has been totally merged with Hindley, the monster. Her particularity has been subsumed as a two-dimensional stereotype by having her photo treated with obsessive media attention by being repetitively linked to that same hated stereotype.

Comment: Useful in classes focused on depiction and representation.

Artworks to use with this text:

Marcus Harvey, Myra (1995)

Despite Harvey's attack on reflex reactions to Hindley and his verbal protest to the contrary, his portrait has further incited public outrage and denied her a chance of fair treatment. There's a clear discrepancy between what the artist has said in interviews and what the painting appears to express.

Chambers, Emma, and . Face to Face: Representing Facial Disfigurement

2010, in: Richard Sandell, Jocelyn Dodd, & Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Re-presenting Disability: Activism and Agency in the Museum, London: Routledge, pp. 179-193.

Summary: In-depth analysis of how the Saving Faces exhibition challenges stereotypes of disabled people as dependent invalids or exotic specimens. Discusses the artist’s rejection of experimentation in favour of a painting style that is as ‘straight’ as possible (and so makes for an interesting contrast with the use of cubist painting in Anita Silver’s essays). Also draws attention to the interaction between artist and sitter and to the process of portraiture.

Comment: Useful in discussing portraiture, as well as depiction and representation in general.

Artworks to use with this text:

Mark Gilbert, Saving Faces (2000)

Gilbert was artist-in-residence at the oral and maxillofacial surgery department of a London hospital. His brief was to illustrate what is, and also isn't, possible with modern facial surgery; and to capture the emotional journey undertaken by patients in ways that standard clinical photography cannot.

Chino, Kaori, and . A Man Pretending to Be a Woman: On Yasumasa Morimura’s “Actresses”

2000, in: Brand, Peg Zeglin (ed.), Beauty Matters, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, pp. 252-265.

Summary: Argues that Morimura’s portraits achieve something that depictions of the female body rarely can. Morimura invites the violent male gaze with his exposed body and then, in the next moment, snubs and nullifies it. With references to Andy Warhol’s portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Cindy Sherman’s work.

Comment: Useful in discussing portraiture and depiction, and objectification in general.

Artworks to use with this text:

Yasumasa Morimura, Descent of the Actresses (1994)

Self-portraits in which the artists impersonates famous actresses.

Freeland, Cynthia, and . Animals

2010, in: Portraits & Persons, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 4-41.

Summary: Defines a portrait as a representation of a living being as a unique individual possessing (1) a recognizable physical body along with (2) an inner life. A third condition is that the subject consciously presents a self to be conveyed in the resulting artwork. Pictures of animals can meet the first two criteria, but not the third.

Comment: Freeland lays ground for a definition of portraits, offering a great introduction to the topic of portraiture, and representation in general. The text can inspire interesting discussions on the possible differences in depicting humans, animals and objects.

Artworks to use with this text:

George Stubbs, Whistlejacket (1761-2)

Freeland disputes the image's status as a portrait partly because of how formulaic it appears.

Jill Greenberg, Monkey Portraits (2006)

The artist anthropomorphizes the animals, as is evident in the titles she chose for some of the works ('The Misanthrope', 'Oy Veh'). So, do they qualify as portraits?

Freeland, Cynthia, and . Portraits in Painting and Photography

2007, Philosophical Studies 135(1): 95-109.

Abstract: This article addresses the portrait as a philosophical form of art. Portraits seek to render the subjective objectively visible. In portraiture two fundamental aims come into conflict: the revelatory aim of faithfulness to the subject, and the creative aim of artistic expression. In the first part of my paper, studying works by Rembrandt, I develop a typology of four different things that can be meant when speaking of an image’s power to show a person: accuracy, testimony of presence, emotional characterization, or revelation of the essential “air” (to use Roland Barthes’ term). In the second half of my paper this typology is applied to examples from painting and photography to explore how the two media might differ. I argue that, despite photography’s alleged ‘realism’ and ‘transparency,’ it allows for artistic portraiture and presents the same basic conflict between portraiture’s two aims, the revelatory and the expressive.

Comment: Considers two fundamental but conflicting aims of portraiture: the revelatory aim of faithfulness to the subject, and the creative aim of artistic expression. Explores how the two media of painting and photography might differ. Argues that despite photography's alleged 'realism' and 'transparency,' it allows for artistic portraiture and presents the same basic conflict between portraiture's two aims, the revelatory and the expressive.

Artworks to use with this text:

Richard Avedon, Jacob Israel Avedon (1969-1973)

Photographs of the artist's dying father. These frank portraits succeed at both artistic expression and the subtle rendering of the sitter's inner psychological states or character.

Freeland, Cynthia, and . Expression

2010, in: Portraits & Persons, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 119-153.

Summary: Sketches how art and science have interacted in the development of portraiture since the 17thc and how both fields have contributed to the study of facial expression. Discusses Descartes, Le Brun, Lavater, Charles Bell, Duchenne, Darwin, Ekman.

Comment: Useful in discussing portraiture, as well as depiction and representation in general.

Artworks to use with this text:

William Blake, Democritus (1798)

Johann Kaspar Lavater included portraits of many famous people in his Essays on Physiognomy. William Blake was one of the artists who helped illustrate the English edition.

Freeland, Cynthia, and . Intimacy

2010, in: Portraits & Persons, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 195-241.

Sumary: Begins with a discussion of objectification, first at the cultural and social level, as investigated by Catharine MacKinnon, then at the personal level, as investigated by Martha Nussbaum. Freeland also considers what ‘subjectification’ might amount to and how portraits can either be objectifying or subjectifying.

Comment: Useful in discussing portraiture and depiction, as well as the links between aesthetics and ethics, and objectification in general.

Artworks to use with this text:

Lucian Freud, Naked portrait (1972-3)

he people in Freud's 'naked portraits' are not shown as active or autonomous, but rather as inert material things. Their boundaries are violated, says Freeland.

Mary Cassatt, Children Playing on a Beach (1886)

Portraying children as autonomous, distinct individuals with inner lives.

Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie, and . Picturing People with Disabilities: classical portraiture as reconstructive narrative

2010, in: Richard Sandell, Jocelyn Dodd, & Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Re-presenting Disability: Activism and Agency in the Museum, London: Routledge, pp. 179-193.

Summary: Provides a close reading of formal portraits of people with disabilities. Focuses on the fundamental elements of traditional portraiture: frame, pose, costume, likeness. Central argument: a conservative representational genre can act in the service of a progressive politics. Through framing, pose, costume, and likeness portraits accord dignity, authority, and symbolic capital to disabled subjects.

Comment: Useful in discussing portraiture and depiction, as well as empowerment and art's role in power relations in general.

Artworks to use with this text:

Doug Auld, Shayla (2005) Portrait of a black woman with significant burn scars

Compared and contrasted with Gilbert Stuart's portrait of George Washington (1810).

Sasha Newley, Christopher Reeve (2004)

Juxtaposed with earlier iconic portraits of the 'man of steel'.

Marc Quinn, Alison Lapper Pregnant (2006)

Powerfully asserting that a woman with significant disabilities who is evidently sexual, about to become a mother, is worthy of being seen on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square.