Exploring the Art of Portraiture
Honors 280.2 – Summer Class
Monday – Friday
An oft repeated adage states that before twenty you have the face that you were born with, after that you have the face you deserve. The adage may stem from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.”
Character is revealed in the face. Can we shape our character, and thus the face we wear through life? Can we look ahead and anticipate who we might be at fifty, sixty, or eighty? Or, are we simply batted about and patted into shape by the vicissitudes of fate? In this increasingly global era, do we retain a national identity communicated through the human visage? Or, is “face reading” universally understood? We will ask these underlying questions as we encounter and explore the art of visual portraiture, dipping across time, continents and cultures to investigate painted, sculpted, and photographed faces. We will question the various applications of portraiture, past and present, considering how life’s large human themes – love, mortality, disability, beauty, power, joy, sadness –affect the human countenance and the art portrait. What lies behind the faces artists have portrayed? How do their lives critically compare to ours? We will practice critical and speculative analysis, research and information literacy.
Selected articles and films will be provided; purchase of text is not required.