Monday, September 5, 2011

Portrait

Aside from gratifying my general love of portraiture, Frank Auerbach’s “Head of E.O.W. II” appeals to me because I am attracted to this piece on two different levels. The painting is certainly representative of the artist’s creative effort and energy, as the surface itself becomes mostly a receptacle for bold brushstrokes and a certain three-dimensionality. However, because I am also aware of the manner in which the artist often painted, which undoubtedly influences my attitude toward the portrait, I am also thoroughly interested in how the final product relates to the process that preceded it. Auerbach hardly used outlines or sketches for portraits, and therefore required subjects to sit for hours and attempt to resume the same position over multiple sessions. Such a procedure would seem to preclude anything but stringent realism. However, the result comes off more as an interpretation of a certain face than anything else. I guess what strikes me, then, is Auerbach’s apparent devotion to reality but ultimate rejection of it in favor of his own analysis for how an individual should really be represented.

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