FACE TO FACE:
Portraits from Public & Private Life
Pause in front of any portrait hanging on the museum wall and you will want to uncover the story behind the person within the frame. The clues to deeper acquaintanceship are all there, in the forthright gaze, characteristic gesture, and costume and décor of a particular time and place. The 19th century art critic and poet Charles Baudelaire required that a portrait present the natural drama inherent in every man (or woman). And from the 15th century onward, viewers of portraits have responded to the invitation to create a biography for the sitter, often letting their imaginations run away with the historical facts. Just think of the mysteries surrounding the most famous portrait in art history, Leonardo’s Mona Lisa.
These three lectures will trace the shifts in portrait subjects and styles through the decades of the 19th and 20th centuries in France and America. At the end of the 18th century in France, commissioned portraiture ceased to be the privilege of royalty and became the means by which up-and-coming bourgeois couples announced their status in society. No one presented the doyennes of Parisian salons in more flattering detail than J.A.D. Ingres, head of the French school, and his portraits were exhibited in the annual public salons by their proud owners. With the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists, portraiture became a more private affair, practiced among a group of friends who painted one another as they worked or played, and when they needed to clarify their aesthetic priorities, as Gauguin and van Gogh did in 1888, they exchanged self-portraits, rather than letters. Early modernist artists Cezanne, Matisse, and Picasso painted their wives and models obsessively, but with each portrait, the women in their lives became harder to decipher in the riot of brilliant color and fractured forms that increasingly dominated the painted surface. Finally, in the 1960s, pop artist Andy Warhol restored portraiture to its public function when he reproduced the iconic images of Marilyn, Jackie, and Liz from the commercial media. These celebrity portraits offered no new insights into their subjects, but simply returned their best known images to an adoring public, Marilyn with her tousled blonde hair and Jackie in mourning attire.
Lecture #1: Thu., March 14, 2013 ~ 10 AM
DRESSED FOR SUCCESS:
Portraits of the Parisian Middle Class
By Molly Gwinn
The early decades of the 19th century in France saw the rise of portraiture as the favored modern genre of painting. Successful entrepreneurs flocked to the studios of Ingres and his fellow artists to have their portraits painted with all the material trappings of their new status. Artists also catered to the cultural preoccupation with celebrity and created images of actors and musicians in the full flood of performance. After 1850, the photographer Felix Nadar proved that the camera could surpass the careful draftsmanship of Ingres in capturing the physical and spiritual likeness of an individual.
Lecture #2: Thu., April 4, 2013 ~ 10 AM
SIDE BY SIDE, INSIDE OUT:
Impressionist Landscapes and Portraits
By Denise Drum Baker
Looking at the work of the individual Impressionists as they treated the same subject, usually outdoors and often side by side, helps to reveal the relationships they developed with each other. Paintings of Monet and Renoir in the garden at Argenteuil or the group at luncheon along the Seine suggest that they depended on each other for sociability, as well as for inspiration and critique. For almost a decade they were united in common cause, to forge a new painting style based on their immediate experience of the contemporary scene and to sell their work at independent exhibitions. Their esprit de corps allowed their dreams to become a reality.
Lecture #3: Thu., May 2, 2013 ~ 10 AM
OBJECTS OF DESIRE:
20th Century Portraits of Women
By Molly Gwinn
Portraits in the 20th century relied very little on mimetic representation, or visual likeness, to convey the physical presence and character of a sitter. Modernist artists preferred to let color and shape express their subject’s essence; for example, Matisse displaced the liveliness and grace of his wife’s personality to her colorful hat in an early portrait of her. When Andy Warhol produced his first celebrity portraits of movie stars and other public icons in the 1970’s, he followed a cultural taste that had developed 150 years earlier. However, he skipped the earlier practice of staging and finishing a portrait in the studio and appropriated ready-made images from the popular press. These pop images tell the viewer nothing about the individual behind the mask and instead question the public fascination with beauty and fame.
ABOUT THE LECTURERS:
Dr. Molly Gwinn is an art historian who has presented the spring lecture series in the past and has offered courses at the Center for Creative Retirement at Sandhills Community College. She earned her doctorate from Rutgers University and has taught art history at Rutgers, the School of Continuing and Professional Studies at New York University, and the Dallas Museum of Art. She is the daughter of Barbara Sutherland, a well-known Southern Pines artist and long-time resident of Penick Village.
Denise Drum Baker is an artist and professor of visual arts at Sandhills Community College. She earned her Master’s from Appalachian State University. Her list of awards and honors includes Faculty Exchange from The Newry Institute in Northern Ireland; Fulbright Teacher Exchange Scholarship Nominee; and a Distance Learning Instructor for the NC Museum of Art. She most recently completed work on Post Cards Crossing the Atlantic, an exchange project with Irish colleagues demonstrating the lost art of letter-writing.
COST (per lecture): $10 for ACMC & Weymouth Members / $15 for Nonmembers
All Lectures will be presented at Weymouth Center (555 E. Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines).
Space is limited. Please register now with full payment at the Arts Council’s offices (Campbell House, 482 E. Connecticut Ave., Southern Pines) or by calling 910-692-ARTS (2787).
For additional information, call 910-692-ARTS (2787) or visit www.MooreArt.org.