About Face: Portraits from the Collection
Adtran, Jurenko & Thurber Galleries
October 11 – November 29, 2020
A portrait is typically defined as a representation of a specific individual, such as the artist might meet in life. A portrait does not merely record someone’s features, however, but says something about who he or she is, offering a vivid sense of a real persons’ presence.
The traditions of portraiture in the West extend back to antiquity and particularly to ancient Greece and Rome, where lifelike depictions of distinguished men and women appeared in sculpture and on coins. In the Middle Ages, generic representations were the norm, after which distinctive portrait likenesses began to reappear in Renaissance Europe. This change reflected a new growth of interest in everyday life and individual identity that continued into the mid-twentieth century. In subsequent decades, portraiture was considered to be old-fashioned, but the genre has once again assumed a central role in contemporary art. Today’s artists are increasingly turning to portraiture as a major vehicle for expression, often to address issues of identity, gender, race and class.
Audiences have always been fascinated with the art of portraiture, whether it’s Leonardo’s Mona Lisa or Andy Warhol’s iconic image of Marilyn Monroe. About Face: Portraits from the Collection presents a wide variety of portraits from the Museum’s own holdings, spanning over two hundred years in time and encompassing a range of subjects that include nobles and commoners; men and women; and adults and children. Stylistically varied as well, the exhibition features classical portraits, abstractions, and folk art renderings. Look for selections from the Sellars Collection of Art by American Women; an array of antebellum Alabama family portraits; and intriguing contemporary works by regional artists Gaela Erwin, Aron Belka and Pinky Bass, among the highlights.