if you say so
Have you ever wondered what makes a portrait a portrait? The Bowdoin College Museum of Art has a very interesting show on display right now called This Is a Portrait If I Say So: Identity in American Art, 1912 to Today. It is a thought-provoking exhibit of paintings, sculptures, mixed media, lithographs, drawings, and more, all of which challenge the viewer to expand his or her idea of what a portrait “should” be.
The use of words as images is a common theme here, and two of my favorites from this show were Mel Bochner’s “word portraits”: Self/Portrait and Wrap: Portrait of Eva Hesse. I love the rhythm and the distinct mood he creates in each piece through his mark-making and composition.
Mel Bochner, Self/Portrait
Mel Bochner, Wrap: Portrait of Eva Hesse
Struggling to read Glenn Ligon’s Untitled (I Am An Invisible Man) left me feeling unsettled and as if I was trying to peer into a dirty, smudged window, while the absurdity of plastic flowers in a basket on an exercise bike (Eleanor Antin’s Yvonne Rainer) made me laugh out loud. Robert Rauschenberg’s Autobiography (complete with an astrological chart on top of a skeleton) was enormous and wonderfully overwhelming.
Glenn Ligon, Untitled (I Am An Invisible Man)
Eleanor Antin, Yvonne Rainer
Robert Rauschenberg, Autobiography
This Is a Portrait If I Say So: Identity in American Art, 1912 to Today runs through October 23rd. Have you seen this show? If so, what did you think? Please share in the comments section!