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Abell, Catharine, , . Pictorial realism
2007, Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (1):1 – 17.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: I propose a number of criteria for the adequacy of an account of pictorial realism. Such an account must: explain the epistemic significance of realistic pictures; explain why accuracy and detail are salient to realism; be consistent with an accurate account of depiction; and explain the features of pictorial realism. I identify six features of pictorial realism. I then propose an account of realism as a measure of the information pictures provide about how their objects would look, were one to see them. This account meets the criteria I have identified and is superior to alternative accounts of realism.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Abíódún, Rowland, , . 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.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by:

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.

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Brand, Peg Zeglin, , . Beauty as Pride: A Function of Agency’
2011, APA Newsletter 10(2): 5-9.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by:

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.’

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Campbell, Shelley, , . 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.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by:

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.

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Chambers, Emma, , . 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.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by:

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.

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Chino, Kaori, , . 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.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by:

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.

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Freeland, Cynthia, , . Animals
2010, in: Portraits & Persons, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 4-41.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

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?

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Freeland, Cynthia, , . Expression
2010, in: Portraits & Persons, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 119-153.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by:

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.

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Freeland, Cynthia, , . Intimacy
2010, in: Portraits & Persons, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 195-241.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

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.

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Freeland, Cynthia, , . Portraits in Painting and Photography
2007, Philosophical Studies 135(1): 95-109.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

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.

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Garland-Thomson, Rosemarie, , . 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.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by:

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.

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Hovey, Jaime, , . Picturing Yourself: Portraits, Self-Consciousness, and Modernist Style
2006, in: A Thousand Words. Portraiture, Style, and Queer Modernism, Columbus: Ohio State University Press.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by:

Summary: Focuses on the modernist literary portrait in general and on Wilde’s novel in particular. Also contains multiple references to painted portraits. Argues that queer modernist portraits concentrate on dynamic aspects of style and personality, presenting both the sitter’s style and personality and the personality of the artist who renders her. Explores how style becomes another vehicle where a dangerous homosociality can be reduced into a manifestation of the merely particular (and vice versa).

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

Artworks to use with this text:

Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

Cleverly framed as a story about a portrait within a portrait, and written by Wilde in part to demonstrate to his artistic nemesis James McNeil Whistler the superiority of writing to painting, Dorian serves to illustrate the central thesis of Hovey’s study. Interweaves reflections on Wilde’s personal style, his style as an author, the style of the painter and of the painting, the style of the characters in the book, and queer modernist style in general.

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Lopes, Dominic McIver, , . Sight and Sensibility: Evaluating Pictures
2005, Clarendon Press.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Publisher’s Note: Images have power – for good or ill. They may challenge us to see things anew and, in widening our experience, profoundly change who we are. The change can be ugly, as with propaganda, or enriching, as with many works of art. Sight and Sensibility explores the impact of images on what we know, how we see, and the moral assessments we make. Dominic Lopes shows how these are part of, not separate from, the aesthetic appeal of images. His book will be essential reading for anyone working in aesthetics and art theory, and for all those intrigued by the power of images to affect our lives. ‘…tightly focused and carefully argued… an exceptionally interesting contribution to the philosophy of art: it contains subtle, concise, and convincing discussions of a number of difficult concepts and contentious doctrines… lucid and meticulous’

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Mukherji, Parul Dave, , . Who is afraid of Mimesis? Contesting the Common Sense of Indian Aesthetics through the Theory of ‘Mimesis’ or Anukaraṇa Vâda
2016, In Arindam Chakrabarti (ed.). The Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Indian Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art. New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 71-92.
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Added by: Meilin Chinn, Contributed by:

Summary: A rejoinder to the claim that mimesis is unimportant in Indian art and aesthetics. Dave-Mukherji seeks to decolonize Indian aesthetics from its internalized Western ethnocentrism, according to which mimesis belongs to the domain of Western art and aesthetics, and open new, non-binary terrain for comparative aesthetics. She seeks to revive the complex theory of visual representation theorized in ancient Indian art treatises, particularly the concept of anukrti, a term she considers cognate to mimesis.

Comment: This text is appropriate for a course in aesthetics and/or comparative aesthetics. It provides an excellent background for a cross-cultural discussion of mimesis.

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Pointon, Marcia, , . Portrait, Fact and Fiction
2013, in: Portrayal and the Search for Identity, Reaktion Books, pp. 23-46.
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Added by: Hans Maes, Contributed by:

Summary: Considers portraiture an unstable, destabilizing, potentially subversive art through which uncomfortable and unsettling convictions are negotiated. As such, it is primarily an instrumental art form, a kind of agency. Also argues that there is an element of the fictive involved in all portrait representations. Explains how portraiture is a slippery and seductive art.

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

Artworks to use with this text:

Garibaldi at Caprera, frontispiece of G.M. Trevelyan, Garibaldi and the Thousand, May 1860 (1931 edition)

A reproduction of a photograph of a copy of a many times copied portrait of the guerilla leader. Devoid of monetary or aesthetic value. Not very likely that Garibaldi looked like this or posed for the artist. The portrait works to endow the historical narrative with its illusion of a unified subject.

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