Viewed at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford on the 13th: a compact show “Hope Gangloff Curates Portraiture”. The short description:
New York-based artist Hope Gangloff has been invited to mine the museum’s permanent collection and select key works to hang alongside her own contemporary paintings [from the past decade]. Using the format of artist as curator, this exhibition will create a conversation between past and present, while inviting viewers to experience the Cantor’s rich, historical collection through the eyes of a celebrated artist working today.
Portraits are, first of all, faces: with an expression, a positioning of the body, and a direction of gaze; in a head-and-shoulders view, an upper-body view, or a full-body view; with a hair style, makeup, clothing, and accessories; in a background physical setting; in a historical and cultural setting; often with accompanying creatures or objects; occasionally caught in action rather than in repose. So: a constrained genre, but with a rich range of details that can be varied.
There are further choices: of medium and artistic style. Portraiture in the Gangloff show is static depiction (no film or video or performance art; I took that for granted in the preceding paragraph), and it’s all paintings of one type or another: no drawings or prints, no sculpture or ceramics, no photography. Well, Gangloff is a painter. (As for materials, the non-Gangloff portraits are mostly oil on canvas, but also oil on panel; plus gouache and mixed-technique on masonite.)
The paintings come from the 16th century through last year, from a number of countries (mostly the UK and the US, but also Italy, Flanders, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, and the Phillippines), so a number of artistic styles are represented. From a historic point of view, there’s no medieval portraiture, and French, Spanish, and German portraiture is drastically under-represented; and the show is essentially entirely European / North American in its focus. Gangloff has chosen works that are stylistically closest to her own work (and she was also constrained by what’s available in the Cantor collections).
These narrow foci work to her advantage: it’s much easier for the viewer to see similarities and intriguing differences in 27 portraits than it would be if the exhibition were broader in scope. Read the rest of this entry »