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Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery expands notions of drawing in new exhibition
Annie H. by Adam Chapman. Single-channel, generative, HD digital work with custom electronics, custom software, computer. 2008-2009, 71.1 x 51.4 x 12.7cm (28 x 20 1/4 x 5"). Courtesy of the artist and Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco.
WASHINGTON, DC.- When the word portrait is mentioned, many immediately think of oil paintings of faces. The National Portrait Gallery is committed to expanding visitors’ ideas of portraiture through its programs, including the ongoing series of “Portraiture Now” exhibitions. Through “Portraiture Now: Drawing on the Edge” the museum reconsiders the once-narrow boundaries that defined drawing. It is open at the museum Nov. 16 through Aug. 18, 2013.

“Drawing has traditionally been a quick sketch, compositional study or memory aid,” said Wendy Wick Reaves, interim director of the Portrait Gallery. “Over the past two decades, contemporary artists have moved to embrace drawing with new enthusiasm and ambition. ‘Portraiture Now: Drawing on the Edge,’ reveals this trend with a variety of approaches.”

The six artists included in the show expand the definitions of drawing and portraiture. Probing the intersection between drawing and photography, painting, video, textual writing and computer technology, these artists show a commitment to direct, immediate, highly personal marks on materials. Each of them employs a painstaking technique; their meticulous, repetitive actions result in a contemplative, almost meditative, engagement with process that adds a psychological depth to their work.

The show features the works of these artists:

• Mequitta Ahuja casts herself as a character in a mythic drama in this series of drawings. In self-portraits she suggests that identity is not only fluid but represents a layering of different guises. She employs hand stamps, paints with brushes and draws directly onto the surface she has collaged.

• Mary Borgman befriends the subjects of her large-scale portraits during an initial photo shoot, and then spends hours alone in her studio smudging, erasing and reworking her rich charcoal images. Attuned to the subtleties of self-presentation—including posture, clothing and ornaments—Borgman presents highly individualized portrayals of her ethnically diverse subjects.

• Adam Chapman explores the role of memory and imagination with friends and family. His animated drawings consist of lines and patches of color that become portraits before once again separating. His images are projected against a sheet of archival paper inserted between the screen and LED illumination, tying the digital work to drawing.

• Ben Durham uses mugshots of people from his hometown as inspiration for drawings. The drawings are created entirely from words layered to create shadows and are his recollection of everything he has been told about a subject.

• Till Freiwald pushes the medium of watercolor to new limits with his highly detailed portraits. Starting with life sittings, he sketches and photographs his subjects and then puts these preliminary works aside to rely on his memory. Freiwald painstakingly crafts the final artwork on paper over many months, layering his medium to achieve a luminosity that captures the texture and glow of human skin. (Watercolor is traditionally categorized as drawing by art museums.)

• Rob Matthews creates highly detailed graphite drawings that mingle faith and spirituality, personal identity and his southern roots. Matthews asks his subjects to think of nothing while he records them, and he then works from record photographs.

The exhibition curators are Reaves; Brandon Brame Fortune, chief curator; Anne Collins Goodyear associate curator of prints and drawings; Frank H. Goodyear III, associate curator of photographs; Lauren Johnson, curatorial assistant; Dorothy Moss, assistant curator of painting and sculpture; and David C. Ward, historian.

“Portraiture Now: Drawing on the Edge” will travel to the Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock, Ark., opening Oct. 25, 2013, through Feb. 9, 2014.





Last Week News

November 19, 2012

London's Wellcome Collection exhibition views death through artists' eyes

First exhibition in Australia dedicated to the Neo-Impressionists opens at the National Gallery of Victoria

Photograph of the Royal Family at Balmoral goes on display in Diamond Jubilee exhibition

Drawing's fundamental role as a catalyst and vehicle for change in art explored at Tate Liverpool

"Letters from Los Angeles: Text in Southern California Art" opens at Jack Rutberg Fine Arts

American artist Spencer Finch presents a series of new works at Lisson Gallery in Milan

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Musée de Louvre announce major accord

Baltimore Museum of Art exhibition focuses on three decades of Matisse's dancers

1895 Cameo Morgan dollar highlights Heritage Auctions' U.S. Coins Signature Auction

Global cultural influences converge in new Jeffrey Gibson exhibition at Marc Straus

Jade hardstone carvings and Chinese ceramics, paintings and calligraphy on offer at Bonhams

Solo exhibition by artist and designer Mark Hearld opens at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Parrish Art Museum opens new building in Water Mill with Malcolm Morley exhibition

Jonathan Yeo's first portfolio of prints, featuring some of his most iconic sitters, on view at Eleven

Exhibition of installation, sculpture and collage by Jennifer Catron and Paul Outlaw at Allegra LaViola Gallery

Art goes on tour during Sweden's Nationalmuseum renovations

Cooper-Hewitt launches Object of the Day to expand collection access

Indianapolis Museum of Art open solo exhibition of commissioned works by local artist Lauren Zoll

Rare Parker Brothers A1 Special shotgun tops Bonhams fall arms sale in San Francisco

November 18, 2012

France's Musee d'Orsay opens major show of 19th century paintings at new museum in China

Topography: An exhibition of new work by Michal Rovner on view at The Pace Gallery

Ed Ruscha's richly diverse investigations of the book as a subject explored in new exhibition at Gagosian

Rosso Fiorentino's captivating Holy Family is the centerpiece of new exhibition at The Morgan

Collection of maps of China, Japan and Asia featured in Swann Galleries' December 6 auction

MoMA exhibition focuses on the transformation of Japan's capital into a center of the Avant-Garde

Donations arrive from all sectors of the art community to support hurricane recovery efforts for art galleries

Allentown Art Museum exhibits works by Abstract Expressionist painter Franz Kline

Autumn auctions at Koller Geneva: Design, Art Déco and Art Nouveau still strong

The ICA Boston presents the first major U.S. museum retrospective devoted to the art of the 1980s

New Possibilities: Abstract paintings from the seventies on view at The Piper Gallery

Exhibition of new work by Josiah McElheny opens at White Cube Mason's Yard

New series of minimalist sculptural configurations that play with colour by Amy Stephens at Poppy Sebire

New world records set for Weisse, Rosati and an Italian bronze at Clars November 2012 Fine Art Sale

Milwaukee Art Museum acquires Taryn Simon photograph symbolic art thanks to community benefactor

Indian royal carriage comes to auction: Maharaja of Mysore's 1825 State Carriage to be sold

David Kordansky Gallery opens first exhibition of new paintings by Jon Pestoni

The Circle Gallery presents the latest works of photographer, producer and painter, Dik Nicolai

Babe Ruth baseball and important collection of baseball cards to feature at Kaminski Auctions

November 17, 2012

Original Rubens "Mary Magdalene in mourning with her sister Martha" found in museum

National Gallery of Art acquires major works across media by Ligon, Castle, Fornari, Asselijn, Tripe, and more

Ground-breaking technology allows a virtual autopsy to be undertaken on one of British Museum's mummies

North American premiere of "Roads of Arabia" unearths hidden history of ancient Arabian peninsula

Major Smithsonian exhibition examines the impact of the Civil War on American art

The Morgan Library explores the life and work of legendary author Beatrix Potter

Museum of Modern Art hosts Meta-Monumental Garage Sale by Martha Rosler

PAFA debuts over 200 works by modern and contemporary female artists from the Linda Lee Alter Collection

James Bond villains headline new exhibit at D.C.'s International Spy Museum

William Turnbull, one of the major figures of post-war British art, died on 15 November

1933 King Kong and 1928 Mickey Mouse movie posters eye records in Heritage Auctions' event

Hans Makart's "Abundantia": The Depiction of Abundance and Fertility at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen

Charlie Chaplin hat, cane and other Hollywood memorabilia to go under the hammer

Milan cathedral launches adopt-a-gargoyle campaign

Site-specific installation by Rachel Feinstein on view at Gagosian Gallery in Rome

Wrong Abbey Road: Station draws lost Beatles fans

RISD Business: Sassy signs and sculptures by Alejandro Diaz opens at the RISD Museum

Pocket watch owned by Italian chief of police who guarded the Pope offered for sale at Bonhams

ING Discerning Eye exhibition prizes announced

New York man accused of fake $11M Jasper Johns sculpture scheme

November 16, 2012

Chinese art star Yue Minjun brings 'laughing men' to the Fondation Cartier in Paris

Mummified dog, found in 1953, undergoing analysis by Mexican archaeologists

Legendary Aztec Emperor Moctezuma II's feather head-dress restored in Vienna

An unprecedented eight Caravaggio paintings on view together for the first time in California

Secrets of a Hans Holbein portrait revealed after 400 years at the Royal Collection

Scientists in the Czech Republic rule out mercury poisoning of Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe

Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain bracelet fetches $3.4 mn at Sotheby's Geneva auction

Phillips de Pury & Company announces highlights from its November Latin America Auction

Collection of 300 Vodou artifacts in new exhibition at Canadian Museum of Civilization

Royal Academician Gillian Ayres exhibition opening today at Alan Cristea Gallery

French-Moroccan artist Latifa Echakhch opens exhibition at Kunsthaus Zurich

Exhibition of new and recent works by Jannis Kounellis opens at Blain/Southern in Berlin

Marc Asnin chronicles the life of his uncle Charlie in new exhibition at Steven Kasher Gallery

Contemporary art market roars in New York

Fabric of Identity: Works from the IMMA Collection at the Roscommon Arts Centre

One bidder buys all to keep Muhlenberg family treasures together and in the process sets auction record

Sculpture of Churchill and Roosevelt top London Sales of Modern British Art this week at Bonhams

Valencian Institute for Modern Art opens retrospective of Antoni Miró

Extremely rare World War II German Enigma machine sells at Bonhams for over £80,000

November 15, 2012

$40.4 million painting by abstract expressionist Franz Kline sets record at Christie's New York

Guggenheim opens last exhibition in Berlin; Shows masterpieces of Impressionism and Classic Modernism

First comprehensive retrospective of artist George Bellows in nearly half a century on view at Metropolitan

New York's Chelsea: The hub of the global contemporary art market flooded - literally

New Banksy book from St. Martin’s Press offers an eye-opening glimpse of the enigmatic figure

Sotheby's to sell three views of Constantinople by Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky

Images of People: Figurative works from the collection on view at Museum Frieder Burda

Exhibition at the Getty Center includes late Renaissance drawings by Italian, Dutch, and French masters

Retrospective spanning the length of Wayne Thiebaud's career on view at Acquavella Galleries

Archduke Joseph Diamond fetches record $21.5 million at Christie's sale in Geneva

Collection from the New Britain Museum of American Art on view at Nassau County Museum of Art

Baltimore Museum of Art launches innovative new mobile art guide on more than 100 objects

Photographic and free-writing installation by Cig Harvey on view at The Robin Rice Gallery

Associated Press photographer Walt Zeboski dies at age 83

Iconic film car, 'Rain Man' 1949 Buick Roadmaster Convertible, may bring six figures at Heritage Auctions

Rare Yongzheng blue and white vase to be sold at Bonhams in December

Works of art using a single color is focus of exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs: 19th-Century Photographs from Paris to Petra on view at Paris Photo

Rare Salvador Dali jewelry to be offered at Clars in December

Howard Terpning's Plunder from Sonora brings $962,500 to lead Heritage Auctions' sale

November 14, 2012

Seminal, large-scale masterpiece by Rothko fetches $75.1 million at Sotheby's in New York

Auction of works from the Andy Warhol Foundation fetches over $17 million at Christie's New York

Rule Britannia: Details of Christie's Modern British Art Evening Sale in December announced

Tate takes a look at the dynamic relationship between performance and painting from 1950 to the present day

The Duc D'orléans Breguet Sympathique will lead Sotheby's Important Watches & Clocks Sale

Four paintings stolen from the Pretoria Art Museum found in South Africa cemetery

Christie's France to offer the Henri-Georges & Ines Clouzot Collection in December

Irish Museum of Modern Art announces donation of a set of fifty-two Mexican prints

Auction of David Stickelber Estate at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers exceeds high estimate

Louvre, High, Crystal Bridges, and Terra Foundation announce multi-year American Art collaboration

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago announces new Marilyn and Larry Fields Curator Naomi Beckwith

Viking hoard of swords form cutting edge of Bonhams Arms & Armour Sale in London

Bonhams Hong Kong to offer The Paul Braga Collection of snuff bottles on 24 November

The Book of Kells by Bernard Meehan published by Thames & Hudson

Locust Projects presents "Soul Manufacturing Corporation" by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates,

Ricardo Rendón's first solo exhibition in New York opens at Vicky David Gallery

Cantor Arts Center presents acclaimed Christian Marclay work Video Quartet

A record-breaking watch auction at Christie's Geneva

A re-discovered monumental 1851 exhibition center piece Surtout de Table emerges from history at auction

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