Diane Arbus, Frank Auerbach, Richard Avedon, Gili Avissar, Raya Bruckenthal, Boris Carmi, Chuck Close, Anne Collier, Dror Daum, Marlene Dumas, Mula Eshet, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Aram Gershuni, Michael Gross, Damien Hirst, Nir Hod, Johannes Kahrs, Yousuf Karsh, William Kentridge, Martin Kippenberger, Elad Larom, Melanie Manchot, Robert Mapplethorpe, Ido Michaeli, Amedeo Modigliani, Emil Nolde, Irving Penn, Pablo Picasso, Alex Prager, Richard Prince, Gerhard Richter, Herb Ritts, Thomas Ruff, Luc Tuymans, Igael Tumarkin, Andy Warhol, and Christopher Williams.
Prima Facie surveys the changing face of portraiture from the beginning of the last century to the present day through the appropriation from mass media, the revival of classical themes and attributes, or the use of portraits as a means to convey a social or political agenda. The exhibition features three major installations: Hans Peter Feldmann’s 100 Years; Alex Prager’s video installation Face in the Crowd; and 25 of Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests. Noam Wenkurt’s Face to Face, live portraits drawing events will take place at the gallery during the exhibition.
The Genia Schreiber University Art Gallery Tel Aviv University, Antin Square, corner of Haim Levanon and Einstein Streets, Tel Aviv, Israel.
Sunday – Wednesday 11:00 – 19:00
Thursday 11:00 – 21:00
Friday 10:00 – 14:00
Prima Facie considers how a portrait can act as a document or as an artistic expression in Western art. Presenting over 70 artworks by Israeli and international artists, dating from the beginning of the previous century to the present day, “Prima facie” seeks to understand how artists create portraits: whom they choose as their subjects, the ways in which portraiture is employed, and the meanings artists seek to convey.
Portraits do not exist as independent entities, rather, they depend on who we are and show where we belong. Portraits surround us everywhere, in social networks, on our bills, in advertising and media. They prompt us to act via a ceaseless reproduction of faces. Through documentary portraiture, the portrait as artwork has long existed. The pose, composition, selection of objects and setting inform us of historical changes in social values and constructions of subjectivity. They examine whom we choose to elevate, whom we choose to ignore, our attitude towards death, sexuality, desire, and consumption. As opposed to other artistic genres, the portrait forms a threefold relationship between the artist, sitter, and viewer.
The invention of photography liberated faces from anonymity and allowed them to be known publicly. This has resulted in a diminishing of the symbolic power and status of the painted portrait. Since visual identity is measurable by means of biometric identification, the importance of similitude in portraiture has become redundant. The recognition of the sitter by merely suggestive artistic means and motifs has become more prominent. This transition from the private to the public inspired a change in the way many artists approached portraiture.
Today, perhaps more than ever, the portrait continues to fascinate artists who are conscious of its limitations as a descriptive tool but value it as a form of artistic expression. By understanding the significance of portraits and their role as a reflection of the zeitgeist, artists are redefining the portrait’s artistic construction, choosing strategies such as appropriation, staging, digital image manipulation, exacerbation of stereotypes, and even a return to classical principles and traditional artistic techniques. The works in Prima Facie highlight how portraiture has been freed from the fetters of history, liberated from the sea of faces that surround us. The exhibition is a unique opportunity to see how artists have moved portraiture from a functional method of representation to a new context emphasizing artistic vision and awareness of its current audience.