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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.

Coleman, Elizabeth Burns, and . Aboriginal Painting: Identity and Authenticity

2001, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 59(4): 385–402.

Summary: Coleman argues for an ontological understanding of Australian Aboriginal artworks (namely, that they function as insignia that require authoritative endorsement) that can resolve disputes about the authenticity of controversial cases of Aboriginal art. More broadly, her article illuminates the ways in which viewing art as part of a cultural heritage can affect how we understand its authenticity.

Comment: This is a longer text that intersects with a number of other topics, including appropriation, art ontology, and the art-status of non-Western artworks. It could be used in the context of course units exploring any of those themes, or to raise them in the context of a unit on authenticity.

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.

Hovey, Jaime, and . Picturing Yourself: Portraits, Self-Consciousness, and Modernist Style

2006, in: A Thousand Words. Portraiture, Style, and Queer Modernism, Columbus: Ohio State University Press.

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.