press release

Portraiture, and the desire to capture likeness in some permanent way, is one of the oldest forms of art dating at least back to early Egyptian art. Portraiture was the most popular type of painting in America from Colonial times into the 19th century. This exhibition explores the persistence of this desire to capture images of self and others as it changed over time and its continued importance in contemporary American art and popular culture.

Before the 19th century, royalty, the rich or the famous were those who had their portraits painted, often to document their importance, achievement, good taste or sophistication. By the mid 19th century, when photography became more accessible, it became possible for virtually anyone to have a portrait done, though affluent Americans continued to demand painted portraits by such artists as Mary Cassatt and John Singer Sargent. By the end of the 19th century realism was the dominant portrait style and artists such as Thomas Eakins were adept at conveying psychological insights into the lives of their sitters and society. With the rise of abstraction and new experimentation with line shape and color in the 20th century, portraiture evolved again, in some cases becoming less a literal image of the sitter and more a symbolic interpretation. In the mid to late 20th century artists like Chuck Close and Andy Warhol explored both the meaning and the process of portraiture in contemporary society. Now, in the 21st century, social networking sites such as Facebook and other new media allow individuals to create multifaceted portraits that may evolve in real time.

The exhibition will include images in the following categories: formal portraits, self-portraits, portraits of animals and portraits of friends or models. It will include works in a variety of media and range of styles including painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture and new media. The Museum is especially excited to be working with The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation to include work from the Foundation’s collection in the exhibition including work by Leonard Baskin, Thomas Eakins and John Singer Sargent. In addition to the works borrowed from the Biddle Foundation, the exhibition will include works drawn from the Museum’s permanent collection and works borrowed from the Johnson Collection and other private collections. Approximately 40 artists will be represented including Oscar Bailey, Elizabeth Catlett, Chuck Close, Alex Katz, Annie Liebovitz, Alice Neel and William Wegman, among others. Artists with ties to Western North Carolina to be included are Rob Amberg, S. Tucker Cooke, Kenny Pieper and Jonathan Williams.

This exhibition was organized and curated by the Asheville Art Museum.

Limners to Facebook: Portraiture from the 19th to the 21st Century

Künstler: Oscar Bailey, Elizabeth Catlett, Chuck Close, Alex Katz, Annie Liebovitz, Alice Neel, William Wegman, Rob Amberg, S. Tucker Cooke, Kenny Pieper, Jonathan Williams ...