Portraiture — alive and well

“Human beings are very avant-garde and are as worthy a contemporary subject as anything else.” (Elizabeth Peyton) 

Exhibition (Group show):
“Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection”
Through Feb 12, 2017
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

“David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life”
Through October 2, 2016
Royal Academy of Arts, London

Two current major shows focus on portraits: David Hockney RA: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life at the Royal Academy in London and Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection at the Whitney in New York. This double treat has stoked the flames of my abiding love for portraiture into something of  wildfire. I want to share with you a few notable portraits, created since 1917, and hope the works either feed or pique your interest in this noble art tradition. The tradition is alive and well. Quoting a David Hockney favorite passage from W. H. Auden’s Letter to Lord Byron:

“To me Art’s subject is the human clay,
And landscape but a background to a torso;
All Cézanne’s apples I would give away
For one small Goya or a Daumier.”

— Jules Cavanaugh

Note: Elizabeth Peyton quote from interview by Walter Robinson, issuemagazine.com


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