American 20th-21st Century Portraits and Figurative Art
This section of the Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) catalogue Topics in American Art is devoted to the topic "American 20th-21st Century Portraits and Figurative Art." Articles and essays specific to this topic published in TFAO's Resource Library are listed at the beginning of the section. Clicking on titles takes readers directly to these articles and essays. The date at the end of each title is the Resource Library publication date.
Following the listing of Resource Library articles and essays is the heading "TFAO references." The count of pages in the TFAO website citing relevant keywords is an indicator of our breadth of coverage for this topic. We recommend that readers search within the TFAO website to find detailed information for any topic. Please see our page How to research topics not listed for more information.
After "TFAO references" are links to valuable online resources found outside our website. Links may be to museums' articles about exhibits, plus much more topical information based on our online searches.
Following online resources is information about offline resources including museums, DVDs, and paper-printed books, journals and articles.
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Articles and essays from Resource Library with most recent listed first:
A 11/29/13 search within TFAO's digital library retrieved:
From other websites:
Upcoming portrait sections:
Upcoming figurative sections:
A Broken Beauty: Figuration, Narrative and the Transcendent in North American Art, from Laguna Art Museum. Accessed August, 2015.
H.C. Porter's Blues @ Home, an exhibit held April 1 - August 2, 2014 at the University of Mississippi Museum, Oxford. Accessed December, 2015.
Focus on the Figure: Southern California Artists (1850-1950) from absolutearts.com. Accessed August, 2015.
Amazon.com sells a great many of the American art books in print. Amazon has a feature that allows people on the Web to read text inside books. To use this feature, search in "books," then enter title of book. When book is selected go to "look inside" and read sample pages of the book selected, which may include color images of the front cover, front flap, table of contents, excerpt such as the introduction chapter, alphabetical index, back flap and back cover. Also, some books have a word search feature, which enables registered individuals to search inside the books and pull up individual pages containing the selected words. See the following book: Bay Area Figurative Art: 1950-1965 by Caroline A. Jones (search inside)
American Art Today: Heads Only was a 2014 exhibit at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University. "In this exhibition of HEADS ONLY, the human head is captured in a wide range of styles; in painting, sculpture, photography, and installations. The heads may or not function as portraits, and if they do they are conceptual, satirical, humorous; not portraits in the traditional sense of recording the actual characteristics of a person's physiognomy. For the contemporary artist, the heads are fragmented parts of the human body capable of their own existence as a separate entity and worthy of exploration and exploitation." -- quote from catalog essay by Dr. Carol Damian, Visual Arts Department, Florida International University. Accessed 1/17
Andy Warhol: My Perfect Body is a 2016-17 exhibit at the Andy Warhol Museum, which says: "Highlighting The Warhol's permanent collection, and including rarely traveled loans, this exhibition broadly examines Warhol's work, from student drawings to late paintings of the 1980s. This exhibition reveals the parallels between Warhol's personal history -- including his struggles with his own physical appearance, such as early signs of balding in 1950s and the gruesome scars following his shooting in 1968 -- and the treatment of the body as a subject in his work." Accessed 11/16 Also see review by Cristina Rouvalis in Fall 2016 Carnegie Magazine. Accessed 11/16. Also 10/27/16 interview of curator Jessica Beck in Art F City. Accessed 11/16.
Anne Labovitz: Composite Portrait, an exhibit held June 4 - August 11, 2013 at the Tweed Museum of Art. Includes online videos. Accessed April, 2015.
"Art, AIDS, and Ethics" by Kate Scannell, MD., Virtual Mentor. April 2006, Volume 8, Number 4: 271-276. Accessed August, 2015.
As It Happened: Works by Sanit Khewhok, an exhibit held July 08, 2010 - October 10, 2010 at the Honolulu Academy of Arts. Accessed January, 2015.
Bearing Witness: Daniel Heyman, an exhibit held January 15 - March 13, 2011 at the Laband Art Gallery at Loyola Marymount University. Includes "portraits of individuals who have endured great personal hardship - former Abu Ghraib detainees, African American fathers who have been in and out of jail, and new immigrants to the United States." Accessed February, 2015
Characters: Portraits by Robert Weaver was a 1994 exhibit at the Sheldon Museum of Art which says: "This current exhibition focuses on Weaver's recent highly charged and bold portrait paintings of local, powerful and influential individuals that capture the subjects/ personalities with directness and honesty, often revealing the nature of both the artist and the sitter." Viewers may download the exhibition brochure. Accessed 1/17
Charles Garabedian: A Retrospective, an exhibit held January 22 - May 1, 2011 at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Includes illustrated press release. Accessed April, 2015.
Dames: Portraits by Norman Sunshine is a 2015-16 exhibit at the Boca Raton Museum of Art which says: "The human figure has captivated Norman Sunshine for much of his artistic career.... Among those who have posed for him are art patron Agnes Gund, philanthropist Nancy Kissinger, and Anne Sutherland Fuchs, former publisher of Vogue, Woman's Day, and Elle." Also see Sun Sentinel article. Accessed 2/17
Diego Lasansky: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a 2016 exhibit at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art which says: "Lasansky's work is figurative, and, like his grandfather, tends to focus on subjects readily available to him -- such as family members -- and those of historical and personal significance, such as Goya, Rembrandt, and Martin Luther." Also see artist's website. Accessed 2/17
The Discerning Eye: Scintillating Paintings from Rodney Burlingame, an exhibit held January 26 - May 3, 2014 at the Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art on the Fayette campus of Central Methodist University. Search online for an 8-minute gallery tour of the exhibit with narrative by the artist. Accesssed January, 2016.
El Mac: Aerosol Exalted was a 2015-16 exhibit at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, which says: "El Mac began painting with acrylics and painting graffiti in the mid '90s, when his primary focus became the life-like rendering of human faces and figures. El Mac has since worked consistently toward developing his unique rendering style, which utilizes repeating contour lines reminiscent of ripples, turning patterns and indigenous North American art."
Enduring Spirit: The Art of Tyrone Geter is a 2017 exhibit at the Columbia Museum of Art which says: "Columbia African-American artist Tyrone Geter debuts an all-new series of large-scale charcoal and pastel drawings in this one-person show of approximately two dozen works. Geter's work is heavily influenced by his mother, who grew up in the early 20th century amid racial discrimination, poverty, and illiteracy." Presentation includes multimedia tap tour. Also see the artist's website. Accessed 4/17
Everett Raymond Kinstler: Pulps to Portraits, an exhibit held June 14 - September 28, 2012 at the Bellarmine Museum of Art. Accessed May, 2015.
Exotic Muses: Dancers by Robert Henri and Nick Cave, an exhibit held January 24 - July 8, 2012 at the Mead Art Museum. Includes audio clips interpreting artworks in the exhibit. Accessed February, 2015
Face to Face was a 1988-89 exhibit at the Sheldon Museum of Art which says: "Among the various types of artistic expression, portraits are probably considered the most approachable by the greatest number of people. And yet, upon closer consideration, it is evident that no amount of scrutiny on the part of the artist, or the viewer, can deliver the portrait from a fundamental limbo resulting from its dual referential and aesthetic functions. The portrait partakes of a variety of truths, but never resides within anyone verity. The philosophical debate about the nature of likeness has raged since the time of Plato, and remains unresolved." Viewers may download the exhibition brochure. Accessed 1/17
Face to Face: Artists' Self-Portraits from the Collection of Jackye and Curtis Finch, Jr. was a 2015 exhibit at the Baker Museum which says: "Narcissism, experimentation, practice, storytelling, self-promotion, personal quest... There are many reasons that artists have for centuries felt the need to portray themselves. A prominent theme in the history of art, self-portraiture has followed the evolution of self-consciousness and metaphysics." Accessed 1/17
M. Louise Stanley / Matrix 14 is a 1978 exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive which says: "Either through their narrative action, figurative distortion or scale in relation to the overall image, many of the women in Stanley's works have a powerful and assertive appearance, even the ones feigning innocence." Also see artist's website. Accessed 3/17
Figure Study: The Fourteenth Street School and the Woman in Public, an exhibit held August 26 - December 23, 2011 at The Fralin Museum of Art, University of Virginia. Texts include exhibit labels. Accessed May, 2014
Firelei Báez: Bloodlines is a 2017 exhibit at the Andy Warhol Museum which says: "Bloodlines showcases paintings and drawings depicting textiles, hair designs, and body ornaments, linking symbols of power with human gestures. The work is labor intensive, delicate, rich in color, and presents female subjects as strongly connected to both a past and present understanding of race." Also see artist's website. Accessed 3/17
E. Roscoe Shrader, an exhibit held October 31, 2010-January 23, 2011 at the Laguna Art Museum. Includes online curator's lecture video. Accessed February, 2015.
Everett Raymond Kinstler: Pulps to Portraits was a 2012 exhibit at the Bellarmine Museum of Art which says in its press release: "... the Bellarmine exhibition highlights a number of the artist's portraits of well-known personalities from the worlds of government, entertainment, and literature. The show, which was originally organized by the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, also features a selection of Kinstler's early work as an illustrator of "pulp" fiction book covers, magazines, and comic book pages - pieces that continue to resonate in his paintings to this day." Accessed 1/17
Fay Jones: Painted Fictions, an exhibit held November 18, 2006 - January 20, 2007 at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University. Includes News Release and Educator Resources. Accessed January, 2015.
Florine Stettheimer: Painting Poetry is a 2017 exhibit at the Jewish Museum which says: "Through over 50 paintings and drawings, a selection of costume and theater designs, photographs and ephemera, as well as critically acclaimed poems, the Jewish Museum will offer a timely reconsideration of this important American artist, revealing Stettheimer's singular and often satiric vision and significant role in American modern art. The exhibition highlights the artist's distinctly personal style of painting, Stettheimer's position amidst New York's artistic elite and avant-gardes, and her continued influence on artistic practice today." Also see press release, wall text, labels and illustrated checklist Accessed 6/17
Francesco Clemente: Dormiveglia is a 2016-17 exhibit at the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, which says: "Each canvas is painted in a washed pastel palette and depicts a statuesque, classically draped goddess-like figure that hovers between land and sea, antiquity and modernity, the sublime and the grotesque." Accessed 11/16
Frank Lobdell Figure Drawings, an exhibit held November 11, 2009 - February 21, 2010 at the Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Includes press release. Accessed August, 2015.
God Bless Art: The Portraits of Earle Merchant was an exhibit held April 9, 2016 - May 28, 2016 at the Cape Ann Museum. The museum information includes links to Keith Powers, "Love of Creating Art Shines Through" (Cape Ann Beacon 4/15/16) and Gail McCarthy, "God Bless Art" (Gloucester Daily Times 4/7/16). Merchant said in 1990: "I am, essentially, a self-taught artist. My earlier works leaned towards the primitive, but they became less of that style as I progressed. I like people, especially children. This probably accounts for achieving notable likenesses in finished portraits. I value highly my companionship over the years with so many talented fellow artists. Cape Ann is fortunate to have such high quality artists. God bless art and its Associations." Accessed August, 2016.
Hope Gangloff: Love Letters, an exhibit held January 30 to June 5, 2011 at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art. Accessed August, 2015.
Jenny Dubnau: Head On, an exhibit held January 30 to June 5, 2011 at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art. Accessed August, 2015.
Joan Brown / Matrix 24 is a 1979 exhibit at the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive which says: " Brown is an important participant in an artistic push of the last decade toward a rich, content-laden, figurative imagery. Unlike earlier precedents, Brown's style has been rendered with the simplest, almost primitive, visual means and with an emphasis on the single, highly evocative and immediately apprehendable image." Also see entry in Wikipedia. Accessed 3/17
John Paul Jones, an exhibit held October 31, 2010-January 23, 2011 at the Laguna Art Museum. Includes online panel discussion video. Accessed February, 2015.
Jose Alvarez (D.O.P.A.), Krome is a 2016-17 exhibit at the Boca Raton Museum of Art which says: "Alvarez was detained in Krome Detention Center in Miami for identity theft for two months in 2012. During this time he created a series of portraits of his fellow detainees using ballpoint pens and whatever paper he could find." Accessed 2/17
Juliette Aristides: Observations, an exhibit held August 10 - September 14, 2013 at the Reading Public Museum. Includes online audio. Accessed April, 2015.
Kehinde Wiley: Memling, an exhibit held July 11, 2014 - October 5, 2014 at the Taft Museum of Art. Includes online video and Portico article. Accessed April, 2015.
Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic was held June 11 - September 5, 2016 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Information from the press release, plus more, is here. Accessed Sept., 2016
Les Caison III: Looking Up. an exhibit held December 5, 2014 - March 21, 2015 at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University. Includes gallery guide. Accessed December, 2015.
Lee Godie: Self-Portraits was held April 8-July 5, 2016 at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art.. It was organized by The John Michael Kohler Arts Center. The Intuit Web page for the exhibit contains an essay by curator Karen Patterson. Accessed June, 2016.
Likeness of Being: Portraits by Phillip Burke, an exhibit held April 10 - September 13, 2015 at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. Includes essay by Scott Propeack, chief curator, Burchfield Penney Art Center. Accessed February, 2016.
Medea and Her Sisters: Leonard Baskin's Images of Women, an exhibit held June - September 2007 at the Smith College Museum of Art. Accessed April, 2015.
"The National Academy: A Legacy of Fine Arts," by Jennifer Hebblethwaite and "Art and Law: Derivative Works And Copyright · Painting from Another's Photograph;" by Mary Ann Fergus from Portrait Society of America. [Link found to be expired as of 2015 audit. TFAO is saving the citation for use by researchers.]
National Portrait Gallery (US):
Accessed August, 2015.
Phyllis Bramson: Under the Pleasure Dome is a 2016 exhibit at the Chicago Cultural Center which says: "Phyllis Bramson is an enigmatic and influential artist and professor in the Chicago art world. Her lush colors, coy figuration and wholehearted embrace of the decorative in the service of masterfully composed assemblages and paintings that draw the viewer ever further in to many layered stories are continuous threads in her decades long practice of artmaking and teaching." Also see 3/19/17 article in Chicago Tribune and artist's website. Accessed 3/17
Picturing Identity: The Allure of Portraiture, an exhibit held November 17, 2012 - February 17, 2013 at the Figge Art Museum. Includes image. Accessed August, 2015.
Population by Ray Turner is a 2013 exhibit at the Huntington Museum of Art which says: "Population entices the viewer to decipher each sitter individually the facial features, expressions, and emotions as captured in Turner's sculptural brushwork as well as search for relationships across the entire group of works." Accessed 3/17
Red Grooms: What's the Ruckus? an exhibit held June 29 - October 20, 2013 at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center. Includes curator's essay and links to reviews. Accessed August, 2015.
Reframing the Picture, Reclaiming the Past is a 2017 exhibit at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum which says: "This exhibition of contemporary art will depict the black body as part of an ongoing conversation in which the contemporary works "talk back" so to speak, with the historic works presented in The Black Figure in the European Imaginary." Accessed 2/17
Resemblance: Figure and Portrait Paintings by Runcie Tatnall, an exhibit held March 29 - May 3, 2014 at the Texarkana Regional Arts Center. Accessed December, 2015.
Salvatore Del Deo: Faces & Figures 1969 - 2012, an exhibit held February 6 - March 9, 2014 at the Cape Cod Museum of Art. Accessed August, 2015.
The Singing Bird Room of Robert Lostutter, an exhibit held October 5, 2012 to January 6, 2013 at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The museum's website says: "In the early 1970s, a sojourn in Mexico and his love of nature led Robert Lostutter to seize upon a theme that came to define his mature style. A superb draftsman and watercolorist, he began making portraits of figures adorned with the plumage of tropical birds or the petals and leaves of orchids. Lostutter's mythic creatures are both disturbing and radiantly beautiful, fusions of animal and human, nature and culture." Accessed February, 2015
This Is a Portrait If I Say So: Identity in American Art, 1912 to Today was a 2016 exhibit held at Bowdoin College Museum of Art which says: "Featuring iconic American Artists such as Marsden Hartley, Alfred Stieglitz, Robert Rauschenberg, Yoko Ono, Roni Horn, Glenn Ligon, and others, this timely and groundbreaking exhibition includes more than 60 abstract, symbolic, and conceptual portraits across a wide range of media -- reexamining over a century of portraiture and inspiring new ways to see ourselves and others." The BCMA page includes links to the press release, checklist, images, labels, media articles, multimedia and more. Accessed 10/16.
Tough by Nature: Portraits of Cowgirls and Ranch Women of the American West, an exhibit of the art of Lynda Lanker, a Eugene, Oregon, based artist, held July 01, 2012 to September 09, 2012 at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon. Accessed February, 2015
Toxic Beauty: The Art of Frank Moore, an exhibit held Spetember 6 - December 8, 2012 at the Grey Art Gallery of New York University. Includes two films, press release and checklist. One of the films is a 48-minute Frank Moore illustrated lecture at the Skowhegan School of Painting, 1998. Accessed December 2015.
Trevor Southey: Reconciliation, an exhibit held October 21, 2010 through February 13, 2011 at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts at University of Utah. Includes video. Accessed May, 2015.
Woodmere Art Museum provides online the 42-page catalogue for Just In: Martha Mayer Erlebacher, an exhibit held at the museum January 11 - March 2, 2014. Accessed May, 2015.
The WGBH/Boston Forum Network is an audio and video streaming web site dedicated to curating and serving live and on-demand lectures, including a number of videos on Art and Architecture. Partners include a number of museums, colleges, universities and other cultural organizations. See listings of related videos in this catalogue indexed by partner name. Old South Meeting House partnered with the WGBH Forum Network for Deaf Artist: The World of John Brewster, Jr.,(32 minutes) a lecture by Harlan Lane, psychologist, historian and distinguished professor at Northeastern University, examines this extraordinary American portrait artist and how his memberships within multiple worlds (Puritan, Federalist elite, Deaf and Art) converged to leave an enduring legacy. [September 23, 2004]. Accessed May, 2015.
Celebrity Caricature in America by Wendy Wick Reaves, Yale University Press, 1998. Amazon.com says:",,,Reaves contends that this modern caricature - with its abbreviation, provocation, wit, figural distortion and dissonant colour contrasts - was a type of portraiture that captures the essence of the times and influenced other arts. Celebrity caricature had appeal to an audience hungry for emblems of the emerging urban culture. This book accompanies the first comprehensive exhibition on celebrity caricature, which will open at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, USA in April 1998."
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