Saturday, March 18, 2006

Realism and Artifice

After writing yesterday about the exhibitions at the National Portrait Gallery I explored Stuart Pearson Wright's website a little more. It includes a record of the presentation (text and slides) he made at the British Museum - "Realism and Artifice" in 2002 concerning the nature of portraiture and the two dominant tendencies towards:

Realism - recording what is there in the spirit of enquiry - searching for the truth and some understanding about what is observed rather than just a likeness.

"The depth of realism is determined by the depth of enquiry, not necessarily in terms of naturalism but in psychological depth also. Many portraits represent the sitter in as far as they are recognisable but offer little more. Realism is a matter of penetration."

and

"(Artifice is)the tendency to be economical with the truth, to lie, to modify the image of the subject in order to fulfil an agenda, either personal to the artist, defined by the subject, conditioned by the fashion of the time, or else in the case of a totalitarian regime, dictated by the state."

His website does not provide a URL for the individual sections. The record of the presentation is contained in section 9 Writings. It comprises a Word document of the text and a large powerpoint file containing the slides used in the presentation.

It's a fascinating read.

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