Portraits in painting and photography

Philosophical Studies 135 (1):95 - 109 (2007)

Cynthia Freeland
University of Houston
This article addresses the portrait as a philosophical form of art. Portraits seek to render the subjective objectively visible. In portraiture two fundamental aims come into conflict: the revelatory aim of faithfulness to the subject, and the creative aim of artistic expression. In the first part of my paper, studying works by Rembrandt, I develop a typology of four different things that can be meant when speaking of an image’s power to show a person: accuracy, testimony of presence, emotional characterization, or revelation of the essential “air” (to use Roland Barthes’ term). In the second half of my paper this typology is applied to examples from painting and photography to explore how the two media might differ. I argue that, despite photography’s alleged ‘realism’ and ‘transparency,’ it allows for artistic portraiture and presents the same basic conflict between portraiture’s two aims, the revelatory and the expressive.
Keywords Portrait  Portraiture  Photography  Painting  Picture  Kendall Walton  Roland Barthes  Susan Sontag  Art  Depiction  Subjects  Subjectification  Objectification   Merleau-Ponty Cézanne   Likeness
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-007-9099-7
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References found in this work BETA

What Do Pictures Want?: The Lives and Loves of Images.W. J. T. Mitchell - 2006 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 64 (2):291-293.
Review of John Dewey, Art as Experience. [REVIEW]D. W. Prall - 1935 - Philosophical Review 44 (4):388-390.

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Pictures, Presence and Visibility.Solveig Aasen - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):187-203.

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