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The Power of Portraiture: Recent Acquisitions

September 24, 2022 – March 19, 2023
Amoako Boafo, Nancy, 2017. Oil on canvas, 53 1/4 × 49 5/8 inches (135.26 × 126.05 cm). Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University. Gift of Marianne Boesky, 2021.35.1. © Amoako Boafo, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles.

Portraiture has long been an effective mode of artistic expression. A portrait is more than a mere rendering of an individual or group of people, and often serves as a revealing window onto the sitters’ individuality. Portraits can also be political, poignant and powerful means of representing the figure to reveal insight into the human condition. For some artists, creating portraits can be a practical and personal way to fashion identity.

The eleven recently acquired works included here represent a broad range of stylistic and conceptual approaches to rendering portraits. Ming Smith uses the camera to establish a forthright and self-reflexive gaze, while Clarence Heyward turns his back to us as a way to universalize his experience. Others such as Genesis Tremaine and Tunji Adeyeni-Jones distort and abstract the figure to evoke a psychological and physical dynamism. These diverse artistic strategies reveal portraiture’s true power: its ability to capture the nuances and expansiveness of one’s subjectivity.

This exhibition is organized by Lauren Haynes, former Patsy R. and Raymond D. Nasher Senior Curator of Contemporary Art and Curatorial Assistant Julianne Miao, with research support by Caroline Carey, A.B.’22.

The Power of Portraiture is generously supported by Ruth (A.B.’81, P’11) and John Caccavale (A.B.’81, P’11).


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