Posts Tagged ‘Portrait

11
Nov
12

Day 316: Portrait of Cate Blanchett, by David Rosetzky

David Rosetzky Cate Blanchett 1

 

David Rosetzky Cate Blanchett 2

 

David Rosetzky Cate Blanchett 3

Day 316: Portrait of Cate Blanchett, by David Rosetzky

David Rosetzky challenges the notion of portraiture and extends the possibilities of the genre in the new digital age.

His HD video Portrait of Cate Blanchett moves beyond being a static, two-dimensional image that we usually associate with the genre, and instead captures the actress’s movements, gestures, and voice.

The portrait appears as an inner monologue where Blanchett, in a voiceover, considers her approach to acting and choosing roles. She moves around the stage as if predominantly unaware of our gaze, at times pausing in silent contemplation, or breaking into a seemingly impromptu dance routine. The eye contact with her audience is rare. As the result we become the voyeur, the spectator, and the confessor.

David Rosetzky’s Portrait of Cate Blanchett is on view in the exhibition Ourselves, at the ACCA, until November 25.

http://davidrosetzky.com/http://davidrosetzky.com/work/portrait-of-cate/

http://www.accaonline.org.au/

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

03
Nov
12

Day 308: Bella in the Lights, by Dianne Gall

Dianne Gall Bella in the Lights

Day 308: Bella in the Lights, by Dianne Gall

Bella in the Lights by Dianne Gall is possibly the odd one out within the context of her current exhibition, Femme Noir, at Catherine Asquith Galleries. As the title of the exhibition suggests, Gall’s works are inspired by the film noir and the powerful female protagonists of the silver screen. The spirit of Bette David, Joan Crawford, and Katherine Hepburn haunts these imaginative and emotionally charged mise-en-scènes; while the styling and interior decorations within the paintings evoke the bygone eras.

Bella, on the other hand, is a thoroughly contemporary woman. She is stepping into the night, pausing on a sidewalk in silent contemplation. If the backgrounds of other paintings within the exhibition are meticulously executed with detailed precision, here only Belle’s profile is in sharp focus, juxtaposed against the blurred cacophony of glaring city lights. They bathe her face in a reflected glow and bounce its purple, blue, and magenta highlights off her neck, shoulders, and the details of her dress. In this painting, Bella is the only focus of our attention; her interiority is the only object of our silent contemplation.

http://www.diannegall.com/

http://www.catherineasquithgallery.com/

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

30
Oct
12

Day 304: Señora Delicado de Imaz, by Vicente López y Portaña

López Portaña, Vicente Señora de Delicado Imaz

Day 304: Señora Delicado de Imaz, by Vicente López y Portaña

The portrait of Señora Delicado de Imaz by Vicente López y Portaña is arguably one of the most talked about works in the Portrait of Spain exhibition at the QAG. This is most likely due to the sheer visual dichotomy between the lady’s ostentatious finery and the lack of physical beauty (as far as the contemporary appreciation of this issue is concerned).

Indeed, Señora Delicado de Imaz wears a splendid fashionable gown of blue velvet, richly decorated with flounces of exquisitely delicate lace; her hair is arranged in an elaborately fashionable style culminating in the Apollo knot; sumptuous jewellery adorns the lady’s head, shoulders, and wrists. The fashionable opulence of this ‘woman of a certain age’ is paradoxically juxtaposed in the portrait to a rather masculine face; bushy eyebrows that almost meet in the middle, and the noticeably downy upper lip and chin.

According to the catalogue article, the portrait shows that López y Portaña, then at the height of his fame as an elite portrait specialist, was not a courtly or aristocratic toady, and did not shy away from the realistic portrayal of his august sitters, in keeping with the veristic tradition of his predecessors Velazquez and Goya.

I, however, am also tempted to consider this portrait of Señora Delicado de Imaz through the prism of an article by Susan Sidlauskas, “Not-beautiful: a counter-theme in the history of women’s portraiture” [in Shifrin, Susan (ed), Re-framing Representations of Women: Figuring, Fashioning, Portraiting, and Telling in the ‘Picturing’ Women Project, Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, 2008]. Her essay examines portraits of ‘ladies of a certain age’ by Ingres, and contrasts them against the idealised portraits of his younger female sitters. She argues that portraits like these were created at the time when ‘women of a certain age’ were no longer supposed to be objects of sexual desire; and therefore artists of the era, such as Ingres, López y Portaña, and others intentionally portrayed older women as lacking in physical allure.

http://qagoma.qld.gov.au/ / http://www.museodelprado.es/

http://qagoma.qld.gov.au/exhibitions/current/portrait_of_spain_masterpieces_from_the_prado

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

29
Oct
12

Day 303: Portrait of Eugenia Martínez Vallejo, by Juan Carreño de Miranda

Juan Carreno de Miranda - La Monstrua

Day 303: Portrait of Eugenia Martínez Vallejo, by Juan Carreño de Miranda

At first glance, the portrait by Juan Carreño de Miranda (Spain, 1614-85) looks like a Photoshop job gone wrong, for the width of the body is disproportionate to the height of the figure. However, it represents a real-life person, Eugenia Martínez Vallejo, an obese six-year-old girl. For all the corseting and cascading folds of the brocaded crimson dress richly embroidered with gold, it cannot disguise the child’s girth as it pulls and stretches to envelop the girl’s body.

The portrait reflects a fascination among the Spanish courtly and aristocratic circles in people with physical or mental anomalies. More often than not, they were taken from humble backgrounds, adopted by and given employment at court, dressed at the height of Spanish fashions, and painted by the best artists of the era such as Carreño de Miranda and Diego Velázquez, whose works are also present in the Portrait of Spain exhibition at the QAG.

However, as these portraits – as well as the portrait of the Infanta Isabella by Alonso Sánchez Coello discussed previously – show, the presence of these characters as well as exotic animals at court was employed partly as entertainment but also to offset by comparison the visual perfection of the ruling elite, thus maintaining the hierarchical elevation and aristocratic ‘otherness’ of their caste. This penchant was soon adopted throughout the European courts, where society ladies offset their beauty by appearing at court – as well as in their portraits – with pugs or monkeys, and had themselves followed by page boys and servant girls of other races.

http://qagoma.qld.gov.au/ / http://www.museodelprado.es/

http://qagoma.qld.gov.au/exhibitions/current/portrait_of_spain_masterpieces_from_the_prado

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

28
Oct
12

Day 302: Portrait of the Infanta Isabella, by Alonso Sánchez Coello

The Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia and Magdalena Ruiz by Alonso Sánchez Coello

Day 302: Portrait of the Infanta Isabella, by Alonso Sánchez Coello

The portrait of The Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia and Magdalena Ruiz (c.1585-88), by Alonso Sánchez Coello (Spain, c. 1531-1588), is among the central images of the Portrait of Spain exhibition from the Prado collections, on view at the Queensland Art Gallery until November 4.

The portrait shows the Infanta standing full-length and facing the viewer with a fixed and imperious gaze. She is wearing a spectacular dress of crisp white silk richly embroidered with gold; a high starched collar of exquisite lace; and a sumptuous jewelled parure of gold, pearls, and precious stones. In her hands she is holding a cameo portrait of her father, Philip II, thus paying an emphatic homage to the monarch of Spain.

The family servant, Magdalena Ruiz, is kneeling subserviently by the Infanta’s side, vicariously representing the homage of the Spanish nation before its ruling dynasty. She is holding two rare South-American monkeys reflective of the courtly interest in rare and exotic species of flora and fauna as well as a symbol of Spain’s colonial expansion and the (temporary) annexation of Portugal and its South American colonies.

The physical and psychological contrast between the Infanta and the servant with monkeys accentuates the message of the ruling dynasty’s elevation to a semi-divine status far above the rest of the humanity.

http://qagoma.qld.gov.au/ / http://www.museodelprado.es/

http://qagoma.qld.gov.au/exhibitions/current/portrait_of_spain_masterpieces_from_the_prado

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

07
Jul
12

The Archibald Prize for Portraiture – Some Statistics

McInnes_Miss_Collins_1924Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Archibald Prize for Portraiture – Some Statistics

One of the highlights of my visit to the Archibald Prize exhibition was stumbling across Peter Ross’s slim volume on the history of the Prize. While the publication itself is rather broad and cursory, it does contain an invaluable appendix listing and illustrating all the past winners of the prize. Examining them provides for some interesting statistics.

The Archibald Prize for Portraiture has been running annually from 1921 to present. As no prizes had been awarded in 1964 and 1980, and a single event was held in 1991-92, in total, during its ninety-two year history, 89 prizes have been awarded.

Out of these 89 prizes:

–         Because a number of artists had won several times, 89 Archibald Portrait Prizes were awarded to 53 artists.

–         Of these, William Dargie had won the most prizes with 8 wins under his belt (see image below); followed closely by William Beckwith McInnes with 7 (see image at the top; including the inaugural prize); John Longstaff and Ivor Hele both had won 5 times each; William Dobell, William Pidgeon, and Clifton Pugh had won 3 prizes each; Judy Cassab, Kevin Connor, Max Meldrum, William Robinson, Nigel Thomson, and Brett Whiteley had won twice.

Dargie_Jim Gordon Archibald

–         In total, these 15 artists represent 28% of all winning artists; and they won a total of 51 (or 57%) of the prizes.

–         A number of artists had won the Prize several years running:

  • The all-time record holder is the inaugural winner, William Beckwith McInnes, who had won back to back, 4 years in a row, 1921-1924;
  • William Dargie and Ivor Hele had won 3 years in a row each, 1945-47 and 1953-55 respectively;
  • Dargie also had a two-year winning streak (1941-2); as did John Longstaff (1928-29); Max Medlrum (1939-40); and Clifton Pugh (1971-72).

–         Eric Smith was the last artist to win the Archibald prize back to back, two years in a row (1981 and 1982); such feat has not been repeated since.

–         In 1997, Nigel Thomson became the last artist to date to enjoy a second win (for his portrait of Barbara Blackman), no artist had won the Prize more than once since.

–         81 prizes (91%) were awarded to a male artist; 8 (9%) to a female artist.

–         However, given that 89 prizes were won by a total of 53 artists, these figures can be adjusted to respectively 46 (87%) male and 7 (13%) female artists to have won the Prize.

–         With the total of two wins, Judy Cassab is the only female artist to date to win more than one Archibald Prize (1960 and 1967).

Beckwith Annear Archibald 1921

–         In 1921, William Beckwith McInnes won the Inaugural Archibald Prize (illustrated above).

–         McInnes was thus also the first male artist to win the Archibald Prize.

–         In 1938, Nora Heysen was the first female artist to win the Archibald Prize.

Judy Cassab- Stanislaus Rapotec 1960

–         In 1921, William Beckwith McInnes was the first artist (of either gender) to win with a portrait of a male sitter (as above, Melbourne architect H Desbrowe Annear);

–         By default, he was also the first male artist to win for a portrait of a male sitter (as per above).

–         In 1960, Judy Cassab was the first female artist to win the Archibald Prize for a portrait of a male sitter (Stan Rapotec).

–         In total, 76 prizes (85%) were awarded for a portrait of a male sitter.

McInnes Violet Archibald

–         In 1923, William Beckwith McInnes was the first artist (of either gender) to win with a portrait of a female sitter (Violet McInnes, illustrated above);

–         By default, he was also the first male artist to win with a portrait of a female sitter (as per above).

–         In 1938, Nora Heysen was the first female artist to win with a portrait of a female sitter (Mme Elink Schuurman).

–         In total, 13 prizes (15%) were awarded for a portrait of a female sitter.

–         The 46 winning male artists contributed 72 winning portraits of male (including 10 self-portraits) and 9 winning portraits of female sitters.

–         The 7 winning female artists contributed 4 winning male and 4 winning female portraits (including 2 self-portraits).

WilliamDobell-JoshuaSmith Archibald

–         William Beckwith McInnes was the first artist of either gender to win the Archibald for a portrait of another artist (of either gender) (his wife, Violet McInnes, 1923, as above);

–         In 1943, William Dobell was that the first male artist to win the Archibald for a portrait of another male artist (Joshua Smith, illustrated above);

–         In 1960, Judy Cassab was the first female artist to win the Archibald Prize for a portrait of a male artist (Stan Rapotec, as above).

–         To date, Judy Cassab is the only female artist who had won the Archibald for a portrait of another male artist.

Cassab Lewers Archibald

–         In 1923, William Beckwith McInnes by default became the first male artist to win with the portrait of a female artist (as per above, Violet McInnes).

–         In 1967, Judy Cassab became the first female artist to win the Archibald for a portrait of another female artist (Margo Lewers, illustrated above).

–         To date, Judy Cassab is the only female artist who had won the Archibald for a portrait of another female artist.

–         In total, 31 prizes (35%) were awarded for portraits of artists (including 12 self-portraits);

–         Of these, 23 portraits were of male artists (including 10 self-portraits); and 8 were portraits of female artists (including 2 self-portraits).

Wendy_Sharpe_Diana-of-Erskinville Archibald

–         In 1934, Henry Hanke was the first artist (of either gender) to win the Archibald with a self-portrait;

–         Henry Hanke is thus also the first male artist to win the Archibald with a self-portrait.

–         In 1996, Wendy Sharpe became the first female artist in seventy-five years to win with a self-portrait (above).

–         In total, 12 prizes (13%) were awarded for self-portraits.

Whiteley Archibald Self-Portrait

–         Brett Whiteley and William Robinson share a unique and curious distinction for having won two prizes each for self-portraits (1976/1978 and 1987/1995 respectively).

–         In total, 86 individuals sat for the 89 winning portraits:

  • As mentioned above, William Robinson and Brett Whiteley won twice each for their self-portraits (i.e. their own portraits);
  • Margaret Olley remains to date the only sitter (of either gender) whose portrait by different artists had won the Archibald – by William Dobell (1948) and Ben Quilty (2011).
Maestri Yunupingu Archibald

–         Out of 89 prizes, three were awarded for portraits of indigenous sitters (William Dargie, Albert Namatjira, 1956; Craig Ruddy, David Gulpilil, 2004; Guy Maestri, Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, 2009).

–         In 1991/92, Brian Westwood’s portrait of Paul Keating was the last portrait of a politician to win the Archibald Prize. For the last 20 years, portraits of sitters from fine arts (11) or entertainment fields (7) have dominated the winning pool.

Storrier Self-Portrait Archibald 2012

So, following from the above, as well as the Sydney-centric sentiments observed in the previous blogs, the best odds for an Archibald-winning entry is a portrait by a white male Sydney or NSW based artist of a white male Sydney or NSW based sitter from the fine arts or entertainment-related fields.

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]

07
Jul
12

The Archibald Prize for Portraiture 2012 [Part II]

Storrier Self-Portrait Archibald 2012

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The Archibald Prize for Portraiture 2012 [Part II]

[ … continued from the previous post …]

For once, I fully agree with the judges’ choice, who awarded this year’s Prize, most deservedly, to Tim Storrier. In his self-portrait, The Historionic Wayfarer, Storrier truly extends the possibilities of portraiture and engages in the contemporary objectification debate. Though he shows us a disembodied figure in a safari suit, he endows it with enough attributes to conjure up an image of an artist (witness the stretched canvas, palette, brushes, painter’s box, etc). A mini-burning log at his feet and a hunk of meat in his hand are among Storrier’s most recognisable images; and just in case the viewer is still none the wiser about the exact identity of the person in the portrait, a chargé of the artist is traced on a piece of paper, flying through the air in the wake of his confident stride.

Apart from the clarity and excellence of the execution, which invariably accompanies his works, another reason for my admiration of Storrier’s self-portrait is the fact that he does not deviate from his usual metier to create this portrait. A number of artists in this and previous Archibald prizes, who usually work in other genres or stylistic movements, only too readily turn to portraiture or a human figure in order to have a shot at this prestigious prize. The insincerity of such approach becomes too obvious and their attempts are weak and unconvincing. Storrier on the other hand does not deviate from his usual oeuvre. This portrait fits among other disembodied garments that have been the mainstay of his artistic investigation over the last few years. Same faithfulness of approach can be observed in the portraits by Kate Beynon, Rhys Lee, Tim McMonagle, and a few others, who reinterpret either themselves or their sitters through the prism of their own aesthetic vision.

Tucker Higgins Archibald 2012

Witness, for example, the way in which Kate Tucker, who recently concentrated on abstracted explorations (and whose installations at the Linden Gallery were reviewed in these pages), inserts the portrait of Missy Higgins within her cacophonous explosion of multi-coloured, fractured bunting.

McMonangle Buxton Archibald 2012

While I might be critical of Tim McMonagle’s portrait of Michael Buxton for the lack of any supporting information about his sitter as a property developer and an art collector, I see it as one of the most admirable portraits in the exhibition precisely because it is instantly recognisable as a McMonagle re-interpretation of the human visage, where the artist’s typical textured blobs of paint are re-interpreted as sun spots and skin blemishes.

Behrens Self-Portrait Archibald 2012

A similar observation can be made about the portrait by Monika Behrens, who portrays herself arranging a mise-en-scène of objects that directly relates to her still-life paintings (which were reviewed within these pages), though perhaps the overall colour palette of this particular work is not as winsome as in her still-life compositions.

Fantauzzo Kimbra Archibald 2012

Among the paintings I most admire in the exhibition is Vincent Fantauzzo’s portrait of Kimbra. By titling it The Build Up, the artist lets us into the intimate world of the singer moments before her performance, as she gathers her strength and spirits in the process of overcoming whatever fears and insecurities she may have in order to assume her public persona. I am also taken by Fantauzzo’s depiction of the most poignant dichotomy between the public adulation and the most excruciating isolation, which performing artists and public figures face on an almost daily basis, and frequently discuss its repercussions in their interviews. The execution of the portrait is superb, and the colour balances are harmonious.

Callum Self-Portrait Archibald 2012

Another technically superb work is the self-portrait by Marcus Callum. It is not criarde like most of the portraits in the exhibition; its subdued colour palette demands quiet contemplation which can be a challenge within the context of this exhibition. The evocation of the Old Masters is palpable in the subdued colour palette; the concentrated gaze; the tonal neutrality of the indeterminate background that forces the viewer to concentrate on Callum’s visage; the elegant pose of the elbow; and the subtle indication of the artist’s metier through the careful placement of the pencil and sketchbook within the composition.

Quilty Archibald 2012

And last but not least, while Ben Quilty’s portrait suffers terribly from his increasing penchant for vacuous expanses of blank canvas, his idea to juxtapose within his portrait the heroic valour of the military commander with the fragile vulnerability of the male nude, in a recumbent pose of countless Sebastians, Leanders, Acteons and other fallen heroes of the classical world, is nothing short of a tour-de-force; the thick layering of paint and excruciating angles of foreshortened limbs, severed by the limits of the picture plane, evoke all to palpably the viscerality of war.

The portraits by Storrier, Fantauzzo, Callum, McMonagle, Quilty, and several others like Paul Newton or Jenny Sages, make the Archibald exhibition worth visiting. They stand out among the pervading mediocrity like gemstones in a crown of paste. Portraiture is my passion, and I look forward to the day when the Archibald Prize judges resume the trust they are invested with, and finally take their role seriously, in order to present the annual Archibald Prize as a showcase of the best artistic talent in the field of contemporary Australian portraiture (and we do have some amazing artists practicing in this genre, by Jove we do!!!), instead of a pitiful joke into which it has so deplorably descended.

[© Eugene Barilo von Reisberg 2012; where applicable, images are courtesy of the artists and their galleries.]




Eugene Barilo v. Reisberg

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