Posts Tagged ‘portrait’

Weekend Hot Links

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Happy Friday! Beat the snow today with recent art, design, and culture stories shared by the SVACE faculty and community.

Image via Fast Co. Design

Image via Fast Co. Design

Government Graphics (Fast Co. Design): How Nixon “got” design. (via SVA News)

Opie’s Others (New Yorker): What Catherine Opie’s photos say about Los Angeles and queerness. (via SVA BFA Photography)

Truth Tellers (Adweek): Animation and journalism take on the fake news world.  (via Mark Burk)

Kings of Limbs (Atlas Obscura): Arms and legs and eyes and ears and genitals, oh my! (via SVA MFA Visual Narrative)

See more updates and stories on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram pages.

Portrait Time

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

John A. Parks is today’s guest blog writer. John is a longtime faculty member, teaching the Fine Arts and Illustration painting courses, Portrait Painting and Making it Real. John’s book, Universal Principles of Art (Rockport Publishers) is available through major retailers and has been published in French by Pyramyd Editions. His recent exhibitions at 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel, such as In New York and Paint and Memory, have been reviewed in numerous outlets, including the New York Times and this blog. Read more about John and see his paintings at his website.

We asked John to share his response to a painted portrait of Angela Merkel currently on the cover of Time Magazine’s Person of the Year issue (“Chancellor of the Free World”). Read his response:

Angela Merkel on TIME

Angela Merkel on TIME

Time Magazine’s cover portrait of Angela Merkel was commissioned from the Belfast-based artist Colin Davidson who is known for his large-scale portraits of celebrities.  He said of this one: “Although likeness is vital in my practice, it is my hope that a sense of the German Chancellor’s dignity, compassion and humanity is woven into the paint.”

Only it isn’t.

Instead we have a cheaply dramatic painting of the chancellor suffering what appears to be a terminal skin condition.

Usually I’m a huge fan of painterly portraits in which the viewer gets to see how the paint itself stands in for flesh.  Sargent, Sorolla and Zorn were masterly at this approach, which goes back to the great painters, Titian, Rembrandt and Velasquez.

Unfortunately in the Time cover painting, the ‘noise’ of the brush-strokes has taken over.  Instead of reinforcing our comprehension of the volumes of the head and its fleshy substance, it suggests a surface that is disintegrating.  This is particularly noticeable on the sides of the face and the neck where the flesh looks as though it is simply falling away from the form.  Meanwhile, the center of the face and the hair appear to closely follow photographic reference, focusing on the eyes which are rendered with a very pedestrian point-for-point realism.  This device of carefully rendered eyes and mouth with loose painting elsewhere has long been part of the tradecraft of romance cover artists and other genre illustrators. As illustration, however, this piece is simply rather unfortunate.  It portrays the German chancellor in a way that is frankly ugly. This is all the more unpleasant given the widespread negative bias that the public tends to bring to images of women who are not somehow deemed ‘attractive’.  It’s hard to fathom why the editors of Time wanted to go with such an image. Perhaps they don’t really like Chancellor Merkel after all.

-John A. Parks, December 2015

Follow John A. Parks on Twitter: @skrappy3