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Question: What is the Purpose of Different Styles in Depicting the

Portrait?
Name: Jolanta Jasiulionyte
Course title: CG Arts and Animation, 1st year
Unit: Anatomy
Date: 23 10 2009
Word count: 1.512

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Content

Introduction……………………………………………….…………….2

Main body……………………………………………………….……….3-7

Conclusion……………………………………………………….……...8

Bibliography……………………………………..………………………9

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Introduction

While investigating portraiture we become aware of the variety of styles the


portraits can be presented in, so what is the purpose of them in depicting the
portrait? To answer the questions there’s a need to explore at least few of the
genres and styles. By understanding what they bring to the portrait, what is
their meaning and role, we might than generalize the overall purpose of styles
in the portraiture. I specifically chose to investigate, caricature, expressionism,
realism and pop art, styles and genres which are quit different in both their
overall appearance and purpose. To get to better understand the styles
mentioned above I had to explore some books in depth for example
“Expressionism”, “The Art of the Caricature”, “Pop art a Retrospective”, “How to
read paintings” ,these books became the key of my research . So to begin
with, I’ll start with Pop art.

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Main Body

Pop art is considered to be one of the most banal and plain art styles there is
(when talking about the search for meaning). But is it the same with portraits
depicted in this style? To speak more concretely, let’s take Andy Warhol’s, most
famous pop art’s artist, artwork, for instance - ‘Gold Marilyn Monroe’ – and
highlight the main features of the style in which it was created and what effect
and meaning it brings out.

Figure 1: Warhol, Andy. Gold Marilyn Monroe.

The features of the above positioned work (also relevant to the rest
of Andy Warhol’s art) are blotted-lines and monochromatic colors. Also the
figure is concealed in metallic monochrome section of paints, and the
composition is very minimal (single figure in the centre). To make sense of it,
the applied aesthetics not only take away all the complexity , but also it shifts
the portrayed person’s real outlooks to more simplified, brand-looking image.
With this in mind we might assume, that portrait becomes not only simple and
plane but also it doesn’t say much about the portrayed person’s life and might
not offer idea about his identity. Contrary to that, it asks us only to concentrate
on the surface of the image and admire the style in which it was produced. In
addition, this style was used for commercial purposes, so the images were

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mass-produced. For it became quantity it lost his quality (its meaning). Andy
Warhol’s words illustrate this best:

Figure 2: Warhol,Andy.“Thirty are better than one”

‘The more you look at the same exact thing, the more the meaning goes away,
and the better and emptier you feel’. (A. Warhol; 1989: 457)

To sum all up, portrait (portrayed person’s image) in pop art becomes only a
“stylistic picture” often used for commercial purpose. And there are other styles
as well, which concentrate only on the outer looks of the portrayed personality.

The second style to be investigated here is realism. As researched,


portraits in this style are depicted as closest to real image (to a live person) as
it is possible.

Figure 3: Lambeth, William.“Sumburu warrior”

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Like in William’s Lambeth, CG artist’s work “Sumburu warrior” so in all realistic
portraits no details are left behind and no details are added, that aren’t there.
The viewer is expected to be fascinated with accurately reproduced skin
textures and wrinkles, with the accurately mimicked facial expression and
realistic colors and tones. As well as pop art, it concentrates on the outer looks
of the portrayed one, but rather seeking to reproduce man’s natural beauty,
without embellishing it or applying any aesthetics, but there is one more
interesting feature about realism.
Creators in realism often choose to portray ordinary people of the
cultures society, leaving links to its social or political views. So portraits in this
style not only inform us about the factual outlooks of the personality, but
introduce us with cultural background. To summarize , this style gives the
viewer information about stereotype personality of the culture and aims to
show human’s factual appearance measuring out only the physical aspects
including no interpretations to the image, whereas other styles are devoted
only to that.

In comparison, caricature, one of the portrait genres, reaches for


whole other goals by other meanings. To summarize research material,
caricature’s task is to bring out the most characteristic features of the
personality depicted (often especially pointing out his or hers imperfections and
defects), and to make some point about the nature of man. This is reached by
exaggerating most striking features, representing them in grotesque or
ludicrous style. Contrary to realism it distorts the real outlook of the individual
but not like in pop art it doesn’t concentrate only on the stylistic solution, even
oppositely, the produced work asks the viewer to search for the idea, the
creator wanted to show about the drawn personality.
What is more, because of the very expressive and out-speaking
stylistics of the caricature, the portraits in this style often become a tool to
speak about social or political issues and represents creators point of view. A
great example of this would be Jason Seilor’s, USA’s one of the most famous
caricaturists work.

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Figure 4: Seilor, Jason. Obama…Editor in Chief!

To sum up, caricature’s aim is to point out the character of the


personality, or to talk about something using the exaggerated image of it. Its
purpose is to make us think. There are more styles in which portraits are
produced which insist our responds to them.

Furthermore investigating styles in which portraits are depicted and


looking for one which would require a better observation expressionism (as a
style) clearly stands out.
Among all other styles it lacks of “beauty” (thorough and detailed finishing,
tonality and so on) and resemblance to reality, contrary to that, it reaches to
create unease. (To discuss this further, I chose to take well known
expressionism artist’s Edvard Munch’s most famous work - “the Scream”).

Figure 5: Munch, Edvard. 1893. The Scream

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To intensify the emotional feeling painter used brute distortions and
exaggerations - twisted expressions, howling mouth as well symbols to better
express the feeling. Contrary to realistic style portraits, which were trying to
reveal the factual outer beauty of nature, expressive portrait’s goal is to explore
man’s inner life, figure out his destiny and reveal the essence of the soul within
the portrait. Therefore paintings lacked of realistic details but contrary were
simplified, retaining most expressive parts of the body and leaving it schematic,
drawing only its silhouette (like in “the Scream” it seems we can only see the
interpretations of the body, face and hands as well environment).
But also the expressive portraits show us the captured mood (at this
particular example, it is believed artist wanted to express the horror of the
world and its violence, where the figure is shown not as screaming, but rather
as a scream itself). As a result lines are doubled, colors are plain and
contrasted and the brush strokes are harsh. But most importantly, “incorrect”
depiction of the picture not only reveals man’s mood and soul, it either allows
the observer to interpret the picture in his own way, it is expressive work’s
main goal. So the portrait in this style asks to be understood from our own
point of view, leaving space for personal interpretations rather than suggesting
a prepared answer.

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Conclusion

Despite it was only a quick look-through some styles and the meaning they
bring to the portrait, it might give a better idea what role do styles generally
play in portraiture. First of all, different styles give us different ways of talking
about the shown personality. For example, portrait in pop art becomes merely a
“nice picture” to look at, asking no deeper observations nor interpretations,
offering no deeper ideas about the identity that was drawn, whereas an
expressive portrait might even raise a feeling of disgust or the portrait might
have lost the last remaining feature from which we could recognize the
portrayed person in order to engender the feeling of unease and curiosity and,
as a subsequent, a deeper level of understanding about man’s inner world;
Realistic portrait would show the portrayed one in an objective light,
concentrating only on the surface, while caricature aims to bring out main
characteristic features of the personality and still keep a certain level of
resemblance. Moreover, a particular style in which portrait was created,
prepares the portrait for some sort of use. For instance, pop art portraits are
used for mass-production, commercial purpose; a caricature can become a tool
of exposing political and social issues and realistic portrait is used to “report”
the ordinary. In the same way other styles would prepare the image of the
identity for other kinds of purposes.

To conclude, a variety of styles give a variety of projections of the


personality. It moves our focus on different issues or ideas (It helps to
concentrate our attention on man’s outlooks or on his soul, to see it as an icon
or to get better know his character and so on);as well discuses different
problems. In other words, each style gives us a whole new understanding of
the person depicted.

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Bibliography:

Illustrations:

Figure 1: Andy Warhol; 1962; Gold Marilyn Monroe; silkscreen ink


on synthetic polymer paint;211.4X144.7 cm; In: McShine,Kynaston; 1989;
Andy Warhol a Retrospective; New York; Museum of modern art
Figure 2: Andy Warhol; 1963; Thirty are Better than One;
279.4X240;In: McShine,Kynaston; 1989; Andy Warhol a Retrospective; New
York; Museum of modern art
Figure 3: William Lambeth; Sumburu Warrior; Soft image IXSI,
ZBrush,modo; In: Expose 5; 2007; Australia; Mark Snoswell
Figure 4: Jason Seiler;2009; Obama…Editor in Chief!;
Photoshop;In: http://forums.cgsociety.org/
Figure 5: Edvar Munch; 1893; The Scream; tempera and pastel on
board; In: http://www.edvard-munch.com/gallery/anxiety/scream.htm
(Accessed 14 october 2009)

Books:
McShine,Kynaston; 1989; Andy Warhol a Retrospective; New York;
Museum of modern art;
Exotique 2; 2007; Australia, Ballistic publishing;
Lucie-Smith, Edward; 1981; The Art of the caricature; London; Orbis
publishing;
Expose 5; 2007; Australia; Mark Snoswell;
Digital Art for 21st Century Renderosity’2004; UK; Aappl;
Madoff, Steven Henry; 1997; Pop Art a Critical History; England;
University of California
Laneyrie-Dagen; Nadeijie; 2004; How to Read Paintings; Larousse;
Dutton E. P.; 1979; Expressionism; America;
Wilde, Oscar; 2000; The Picture of Dorian Gray; London; Penguine;
Lewis, Susan and Richard; 2009; The Power of Art; USA; Clar Baxter

Quotes:
McShine,Kynaston; 1989; Andy Warhol a Retrospective;
New York; Museum of modern art; page 457;

Internet sites:

http://forums.cgsociety.org/; Computer generated arts;(Accessed16


10 2009);
http://www.jasonseiler.com ; caricaturist’s Jason Seilor’s personal
website; (accessed 10 10 2009);
http://www.edvard-munch.com/ Edvard Munch art; (Accessed 09 10
2009);

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