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New Spring Exhibit at the de Saisset Museum: What Makes a Picture a Portrait?

The de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University kicks off its spring season on Saturday, April 10 with What Makes a Picture a Portrait?, a thought-provoking exhibit that considers the variety of ways in which portraiture is presented.

Portraits are a familiar sight. They are hanging in our homes, buried in the recesses of our wallets, and plastered on our Facebook and Twitter profiles. But, how exactly is portraiture defined?

This is the central question posed by the exhibit, which features more than 50 works drawn from the de Saisset Museum’s permanent collection. In this exhibition conventional notions of portraiture are called into question through the presentation of a variety of images in a diverse range of mediums. Portraiture becomes an enigmatic, ever-changing art form in which topics such as gender, abstraction, fragmentation, and stereotyping come into play. Through the juxtaposition of traditional painted images and compelling, sometimes quirky works on paper, this exhibition ultimately suggests that there is more to portraiture than meets the eye.

Artists featured in this exhibitioninclude Edward Curtis, Arnold G. Mountfort, and museum namesake Ernest de Saisset as well as Bay Area artists Wynn Bullock, Imogen Cunningham, Judy Dater, Henrietta Shore, and Nathan Oliveira.

A free preview reception will be held on Friday, April 9 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. What Makes a Picture a Portrait? opens to the public on Saturday, April 10. The exhibition is on view through Friday, June 4.

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