The Portrait Now

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In today’s art world, many artists are using portraiture to explore complex issues of identity. The Portrait Now brings together more than eighty portraits from internationally acclaimed artists to demonstrate the accomplishment and inventiveness of this art form.
Recent works by John Currin, Sally Mann, Catherine Opie, Chuck Close, Lucian Freud, Thomas Ruff, Wolfgang Tillmans, Vik Muniz, Thomas Struth, and many others reveal developments in painting, sculpture, video art, photography, self-portraiture, and caricature. Challenging the boundaries of figurative art, these works often go beyond likeness, break free of traditional media, and respond to complicated political, religious, and social issues. With beautiful color images of and in-depth discussions on each work, the book also includes an insightful introductory essay that places portraiture within a historical context and examines how this art form––as well as the purpose it serves––has evolved. 
The Portrait Now is an indispensable reference book for anyone interested in contemporary art.
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Editorial Reviews

“An informative and exciting international gathering of more than 80 portraits by contemporary artists. Diverse in media, style, and intent.”—Booklist
Library Journal
In the decades after World War II, modern art was defined by abstraction, while figurative art was largely ignored. Portraiture recently swung back into favor as contemporary artists deploy the genre to explore questions of identity. This lush catalog of recent acquisitions by the National Portrait Gallery, London, contains top-quality reproductions and engaging scholarship. In the introductory essay, gallery director Nairne argues that portraits offer insight into the inner life or character of the sitter and are necessarily bound up with issues of personal subjectivity. For example, Japanese artist Yasumasa Morimura depicts himself as Frieda Kahlo in a witty critique of Western notions of female beauty and standard conventions of representation. The book design is crisp, and each of the approximately 80 portraits is accompanied by fluidly written text. This book superbly summarizes the meaning and function of figurative art in contemporary society and is an essential purchase for libraries collecting fine arts or cultural history. It would complement eponymously titled books about single artists such as Elizabeth Peyton or John Currin.-Katherine Adams, Yale Univ. Lib., New Haven, CT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300115246
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/2006
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Sandy Nairne is Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, and was formerly Director of Programmes at the Tate. Sarah Howgate is Contemporary Curator at the National Portrait Gallery, London.
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