Portrait

A portrait is a representation of an individual; in the visual arts, a portrait might be a literal depiction of someone’s body or face or a presentation of symbols that suggest aspects of someone’s personality. But how much can a single image reveal about a person’s true self, and how do artistic decisions affect how the self is communicated? Perhaps a portrait is more accurately a starting point from which to develop a more complex understanding of what makes someone who they are.

Explore portraiture by clicking on the images above and browsing the content below.

Explore collection stories—texts, videos, and creative responses from faculty, students, artists, scholars, and curators to works in the Tang collection.
Professor of History Jordana Dym led students in “LA305: Working with Latin American and Latinx Communities” on a volunteer trip to Guatemala, where they documented their experiences. To prepare, students visited the Tang to look at how photographers have documented people and landscapes in Latin America.
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Students compared composition, subject, and framing in photographs by Manuel Álvarez Bravo and Flor Garduño, discussing the impact of such choices on understanding the peoples and places depicted. To encourage thoughtful documentation on their trip, each student composed a photograph on their cell phone in the style of one of the works discussed and then displayed the two together, inviting conversation.
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Associate Professor of Art Janet Sorensen’s “AR201: Painting I” class looked at portraits from the Tang collection that include paint as a medium.
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Students were asked to create self-portraits, and Sorensen held a class discussion comparing and contrasting formal portrait painting to conceptual portraits that explore metaphor or perhaps even conceal identity. Students’ understanding of what defines a “portrait” was broadened by viewing this selection of artwork from the Tang collection.
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Tang Collective Catalogs are short written responses from a multiplicity of voices responding to objects in the Tang Teaching Museum collection.
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