The first in-depth exploration of the rise and evolution of abstract, symbolic, and conceptual portraiture in American art
This groundbreaking book traces the history of portraiture as a site of radical artistic experimentation, as it shifted from a genre based on mimesis to one stressing instead conceptual and symbolic associations between artist and subject. Featuring over 100 color illustrations of works by artists from Charles Demuth, Marcel Duchamp, Marsden Hartley, and Georgia O’Keeffe to Janine Antoni, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Roni Horn, Jasper Johns, and Glenn Ligon, this timely publication probes the ways we think about and picture the self and others. With particular focus on three periods during which non-mimetic portraiture flourished—1912–25, 1961–70, and 1990–the present—the authors investigate issues related to technology, sexuality, artist networks, identity politics, and social media, and explore the emergence of new models for the visual representation of identity.
Taking its title from a 1961 work by Robert Rauschenberg—a telegram that stated, “This is a portrait of Iris Clert if I say so”—this book unites paintings, sculpture, photography, and text portraits that challenge the genre in significant, often playful ways and question the convention, as well as the limits, of traditional portrayal.