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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.

Crane, Susan A., and . Choosing Not to Look: Representation, Repatriation, and Holocaust Atrocity Photography

2008, History and Theory 47: 309-30.

Summary: In this article, Crane, a historian, questions whether Holocaust atrocity photographs should be displayed, arguing that displaying them is not the best means of historical education about the horrors of the Holocaust, as some defenders argue. Her discussion includes reflections on the nature of photography, spectacle, how we look at images, and pedagogy surrounding historical injustices.

Comment: This text offers an opportunity to discuss the display of "negative heritage," and so offers a different angle than many of the articles on heritage which focus on appropriative display of more traditionally conceived heritage objects. The article also raises issues which can inspire discussion on moral criticism of art.

Dawn M Wilson, and . Facing the Camera: Self-portraits of Photographers as Artists

2012, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 70(1): 56-66.

Introduction: Self-portrait photography presents an elucidatory range of cases for investigating the relationship between automatism and artistic agency in photography – a relationship that is seen as a problem in the philosophy of art. I discuss self-portraits by photographers who examine and portray their own identities as artists working in the medium of photography. I argue that the automatism inherent in the production of a photograph has made it possible for artists to extend the tradition of self-portraiture in a way that is radically different from previous visual arts.In Section I, I explain why self-portraiture offers a way to address the apparent conflict between automatism and agency that is debated in the philosophy of art. In Section II, I explain why mirrors play an important function in the production of a traditional self-portrait. In Sections III and IV, I discuss how photographers may create self-portraits with and without the use of mirrors to show how photography offers unique and important new forms of self-portraiture.

Comment: Argues that the automatism inherent in the production of a photograph has made it possible for artists to extend the tradition of self-portraiture in a way that is radically different from previous visual arts. Demonstrates that automatism need not stand in competition or conflict with artistic agency.

Artworks to use with this text:

Ilse Bing, Self-portrait with Leica (1931)

It is usual for portraits to show a person's head either in profile or in a frontal position, but this self-portrait shows both alternatives simultaneously. It also depicts the presence of two mirrors in such a way that we are in a position to judge that the camera has recorded its own reflection. Thus, we see both the face of the artist and the "face" of the camera: it is a double self-portrait.

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.