Portraits as displays

Philosophical Studies 135 (1):111 - 121 (2007)
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Cynthia Freeland’s investigation of four kinds of ‘fidelity’ in portraiture is cut across by more general philosophical concerns. One is about what might be called the expression of persons--the persons or ‘inner selves’ of portrait subjects and of portrait artist: whether either is possible across each of the four kinds of fidelity, and whether these two kinds of expression are in tension. More fundamental is the problem of telling how self-expression is at all possible in any of these forms. Finally, she wonders how photography affects all these questions. This comment addresses portraiture not so much in terms of the four fidelities, but with another quartet of concepts: four ordinary types of ‘display’, in terms of which we see how artists’ self-expression is possible in all these forms, also including photography. Its key idea is that portraits are displays simply by being pictures or sculptures, which are kinds of artifacts, hence things that we perceive as having intentional affordance: that is, as being intentionally made ‘for’ something.



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Patrick Maynard
University of Western Ontario

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