Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Portraits--Is van Gogh High on the List or Ultimately Not?

In today's installment of Who Should Do Your Portrait, our respondents started off with strangely similar lists but ultimately they diverged a fair amount.

Paul K of BibliOdyssey responds:
"This is all rather silly in so far as me myself and I hardly come into the rationale for my response.

Watteau is because of the white chalk (and I have just spent a godawful amount of time not finding the right example) and because I like the 'study' aspect.

The engravers [Dürer, Hopfer, and Cranach] are (kind of) interchangeable and I like them for their ability to capture detail: photographers, one and all, of the 16th c.

Lautrec because we all want the exuberance within to be made manifest.

And van Gogh to capture (?imprison) all of me. And so I can shimmer."

After further thought:

"It's much more about [van Gogh's] ability to render a character, whichever character (although maybe selfportraits are where my ideas derive from) in toto, the communicate not only their likeness and personality but to imbue the picture with that 'shimmering' factor -- it gives the subject a kind of 3rd dimensional life.

And I guess re: engravers, I think of the Landsknechte-types eg. bold, daring, man's man, cavalier. As I said, they are the photographers (with a bit of editorial input no doubt) of the 16th c. They're stylistic character renderings."

Daniel Hopfer, Soldier and Woman

Toulouse-Lautrec, Aristide Bruant, 1893

Vincent van Gogh, Self Portrait, 1889

Todd states:

Not wishing to frighten the rabbits, I am inclined to avoid too realistic an approach to this particular subject. My first instinct is therefore to suggest Jackson Pollock or perhaps Kazimir Malevich. [Editor's note: The rabbits have never thought Todd looked at all frightening--George used to hop forward to greet him--but we don't know how they would react to Pollock or Malevich.]
Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm, 1950

Kasimir Malevich, Black Square, 1913

Among artists better known for actual portraiture, however, Rembrandt would surely have done something instructive, for he tended to concentrate on some interesting aspect of character rather than on how good-looking the sitter was.

Rembrandt, Matthew and the Angel

For similar reasons, I could imagine something appealing by Bohumil Kubišta, though preferably from his early, more impressionist phase rather than from his later, cubist one.

Bohumil Kubišta, Self Portrait, 1908

While Van Gogh and Kokoschka are also possibilities, I'm inclined to think there is too much risk they would make me look crazy -- which might be okay if they were obscure artists, but since a work by Van Gogh in particular would inevitably immortalize the sitter, one would prefer not to look even more peculiar than dictated by nature.

Finally, I must admit to being tempted by Hans Holbein the Younger. For some reason I think the garb of an early sixteenth-century northern European merchant might suit me.

Hans Holbein, Georg Gisze, a German merchant in London, 1532

More responses coming shortly!

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow--Holbein seems pretty popular. But Malevich! Haha!

December 05, 2008 5:07 AM  
Blogger Karla said...

Holbein will probably be one of my choices too, but I have to think about his representation of women, which is not as compelling as of men...

December 05, 2008 5:49 PM  

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