The person portrayed, and the portrait are two entirely different things.—José Ortega y Gasset.
What do portraits tell us about artists, people, places, and historical periods? What can we learn from them? How have they shaped how we see and understand ourselves?
This course will examine the changing face of the portrait in art history. We will look at how and why the portrait’s meaning and function have changed over the years and why artists are still drawn to this genre. What is the meaning of “likeness”? How do artists go about trying to convey immaterial qualities such as the spirit, the soul, and the character of a being? How do they infuse portraits with originality?
We will look at how self-portraits, by the likes of Albrecht Dürer, might possess their own inherent challenges, meanings, and unique idiosyncrasies. We will examine questions such as whether a still life can be a portrait, as in the case of the Vanitas. How and why did portraits so often intend to convey status and power? In what manner and with what relevance has aging been portrayed? In addition, we will discuss topics such as the intent and significance of the family portrait.
Furthermore, what effect did photography and its instantaneity have on the tradition of portraiture? These investigations will be enhanced by a guided visit of the upcoming Diane Arbus exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
Books to Purchase (will be available at Argo Bookshop during the weeks prior to the course beginning):
- Portraiture by Shearer West (9780192842589)