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Apr 8, 2013

What is a  Portrait  in the Cyber Era?

As human beings, we can understand the desire to be remembered,
and the wish to control our public appearance.
That is why the portrait was invented.
The classic portrait goes back to ancient times, but when we speak
about it, we recall the Renaissance portraits.

Piero della Francesca, Federico da Montefeltro
and Battista Sforza, 1470.

The classical portrait contains  three  main  elements :

The  model,
the background (i.e. the narrative),
and the painter
/ viewer, (who are situated at the same spot).

Tizian (Tiziano Vecellio), Karl the 5th with a Dog, 1533.

The model is usually frontally posed, theatrically dressed in his public outfit,
and is equipped with his status  symbols  (crown, scepter, sword, horse -
for  nobles, pen, books, working tools – for educated figures).
The background  supports  the  model’s  narrative (fields, manor, palace – for the nobles, study, workshop – for professionals).

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Self-Portrait, 1804
(revised ca. 1850).

The painter decides upon  the  mutual  “ relationship”  of the model and the
The model can be fully exposed before the viewer  (by  frontal  posture  and
direct eye contact), or can be partly concealed (by  withdrawing his look
sideways or shading his eyes, even by wearing  glasses, or by a profiled posture).

Francisco Goya, Self-Portrait, 1801.

At the beginning of the 19th century, there came an historical prominent shift:

                                               The Photograph

It seemed that the photo would turn the realistic painted portrait irrelevant!
                                         Yet, it did not “die”!
Artists confronted the challenge with new and creative ways:

Sol  Lewitt, Autobiography , 1980.

There is the conceptual  portrait.
Sol Lewitt  created an alternative self-portrait by photographing the inventory in his loft, which contained his choices, and his favorite possessions.
This, he claimed, represented himself.

Douglas Gordon, Phantom, 2011.

The contemporary artist Douglas Gordon,  followed this approach and exhibited an assortment of myriad photos, drawings and  personal objects of an autobiographical nature, which, as a whole, comprised his self-portrait.

Douglas Gordon, Zidane:A 21st Century Portrait, 2006

Gordon also suggests an  alternative  contemporary portrait forour cyber era:
He filmed the famous  football  player Zinedine Zidane during a game
(playing in “Riyal Madrid”), exclusively focusing on him by 17 cameras.
In fact, looking at this portrait takes 91 minutes – the duration of the actual
football game.

Lucian Freud, Self-Portrait, 1985.

Ruven Kupperman, Jacob Kuperman, 2005.

The Israeli painter, Ruven Kuperman, painted his 74 years old father with the same approach.

Now  we return to my first question:
Living in the “cyber” era, when a  photo is not enough, and when we are expected to give more  information about ourselves, and yet, we still want to control our public appearance,  how does a portrait look?

                                          is the answer!
This is the contemporary popular portrait.
It is both visual, comprised of photos, and conceptual, since the photos are
personally chosen. More than that– the combination  of  boards, reflects
personal interests and priorities.
It is not “High Art”, but  it  is  democratic  and creative, the way the cyber world is.

Here is my Pinterest title:

                                 Art, Jewelry and Vita
                   Hi, I design jewels for women like me: mature, modern,
                   chicly dressed for work, a mother and a grandma.
                   My boards reflect my life.

I invite you to visit my Pinterest, and if you like it (I mean – like me…)
please mark “like” and follow me.
Thank you


Do you think Pinterest is the contemporary portrait?

Leave you comment below.


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