Saturday, March 22, 2014

Portraits Now

After visiting the Parrish Art Museum last weekend for the Face Time: Portraits from the Collection exhibit I was inspired to think more about contemporary portraiture.  This painting by Will Cotton caught my eye.
Amanda by Will Cotton 2013
oil on linen 80" x 68"
image from here
Amanda Hearst has a column in Town and Country magazine called Style Spy/The A.R.H. Diaries. I had torn out and saved the October 2013 column which features the posing and planning that she did with artist Will Cotton for the portrait above. She wore a cage dress made of frosting and a candy crown. She leapt into a pile of faux cotton candy as well as still posing for hours. Will Cotton's art is famous for referrencing pop culture. He also directed Katy Perry's music video for California Gurls in 2010. The man loves sweets! Can you blame him?
Amanda Hearst photo from here
Will Cotton's portrait of Amanda now hangs in the Water Mill family home. The painting is keeping company with a portrait of Amanda's great grand-mother, Millicent Hearst painted during her 1903 honeymoon trip to Europe. I tried to figure out who painted this beauty but to no avail. If you know, please enter it in the comments section. Otherwise I will have to wangle an invitation to Ashgrove Farm.
Amanda Hearst in front of a portrait of her great-grandmother, Millicent Hearst
2000 photo by Jonathan Becker from here
I found an article in the Wall Street Journal here titled "The Changing Face of Portraits" with the subheading: "Collectors are paying top dollar to be painted by famous artists - even if it means looking silly or grotesque. How an unflattering image became an art-world status symbol." Some may  possibly be viewed as unusual, but their uniqueness is what makes them fun. I love this still life/portrait of Dianne Wallace by John Currin.
The Lobster by John Currin 2001
Oil on canvas
40" x 32"
Collection of Dianne Wallace
photo from here
Times have certianly changed since he days of capturing the family scion for posterity. For John Singer Sargent in 1884 if the gown of your sitter had a misplaced strap a scandal ensued.
Madame X (Virginie Amelie Gautreau) by John Singer Sargent (1883-1884)
oil on canvas 82 1/8" x 43 1/4"
collection of the Metropolitan Museum
photo from here
"Madame Pierre Gautreau (the Louisiana-born Virginie Amélie Avegno; 1859–1915) was known in Paris for her artful appearance. Sargent hoped to enhance his reputation by painting and exhibiting her portrait. Working without a commission but with his sitter’s complicity, he emphasized her daring personal style, showing the right strap of her gown slipping from her shoulder. At the Salon of 1884, the portrait received more ridicule than praise. Sargent repainted the shoulder strap and kept the work for over thirty years. When, eventually, he sold it to the Metropolitan, he commented, “I suppose it is the best thing I have done,” but asked that the Museum disguise the sitter’s name." from here
If you'd like to read more about Madame X and John Singer Sargent's painting, check out the book, "Strapless" by Deborah Davis.

You don't have to be an heiress or a hedge funder however to have your portrait painted.  Just ask an artist who you admire.
Michael Obermeyer painted this portrait of me during one of our plein air painting trips to Laguna Beach. I love having it. I admire his work tremendously and it reminds me of a great day of painting.
Of course "selfies" are the easist portraits that we can create. Along those lines, there are three more weeks to enter the Parrish Selfie contest, As of this posting the contest was up to 44 postings on Instagram. I enhanced my entry above with Procreate. Thanks to Lisa Borgnes Giramonti at A Bloombsbury Life I was able to "paint" this photo on my very first try. Thank you Lisa for posting the link to the user guide!

If you need an excuse for a trip to Paris, winning a portrait from photographer Carla Coulson would be just the ticket. I'm entering! Details are here.
Tell me about your favorite portraits.


  1. Every era has it's charm..I like being open minded :)
    My favorite here is the one of you lplein air painting.
    That would be the treasure in my eye.
    I understand what you remember the day..the moment..the joy.I would have hung that somewhere special .
    Love it!

    1. Thanks Monique. When I look at the painting it is always a creative inspiration!


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