Pensacola, Florida
Sunday December 17th 2017

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The Artist Revealed

By Jennifer Leigh

Thanks to smart phones, as a culture, we’re pretty accustomed to looking at people’s faces.

But even before technology, portraits have been captured through various mediums, which you can see in one of the latest exhibits at Pensacola Museum of Art (PMA).

“The Artist Revealed: Artist Portraits and Self Portraits” showcases 50 portraits and self portraits by artists and of artists. Alexis Leader, director of curatorial affairs, selected the exhibit, which is on tour from Syracuse University Art Galleries, to let viewers explore the changing nature of portraiture through time, various styles and media, she said.

“We live in the era of the ‘selfie’ and that very concept of capturing one’s presence and sharing how you view yourself to the world is timeless,” she said. “The 50 works within this exhibit represent iconic figures within the realm of art history. Sitters include Thomas Eakins, James Joyce, Ansel Adams and Berthe Morisot.”

The show spans more than a hundred years of portraits—from the earliest piece dating back to 1857 with Winslow Homer’s portrait of Rembrandt Peale, to 1992 with Chuck Close’s pixilated portrait of Alex Katz.

In the exhibit, you’ll see the traditional style portraits you might find in a history text book, early versions of photography and abstract paintings, wood engravings and bronze sculptures.

Leader said she loves to point out one particular piece from the exhibit by Scottish artist, Mark Boyle. The print from 1972, titled “Random Self Portrait, Cytogram” is out of place at first glance, Leader said. It’s more of black and white static than a portrait when you look at it out of context. As explained in the exhibit, the self portrait was created using an electron microscope to capture a small section of skin taken from the artist. It’s just one of the examples to prove that portraits go beyond a standard sitting—and perhaps can even be skin deep.

“The interconnecting lines resemble a unique yet familiar pattern that most visitors can’t quite place until reading the wall text beside the work,” Leader said. “This work is part of the 1970s Skin Series created by Boyle. The negative image was then enlarged and recorded on light sensitive paper. I feel works like this within the collection on view are the key to showing the range and possibility past the standard academic idea of portraiture.”

Since the exhibit opened last month, it’s received lots of positive responses from viewers.

“The ability to showcase works by master artists such Manet, Cézanne, Whistler and Chuck Close in one exhibition is a rare treat for our area,” Leader said.

Whether tourists are coming in for some air conditioning and a culture fix or art appreciators are visiting the show for an encore viewing, Leader said she hopes it engages, educates and inspires.

“The concept of displaying artist portraits and self-portraits fosters a deeper understanding of these individuals, who they truly were and how they saw themselves,” she said.  “That storytelling element is important to understanding their place in time and impact on the arts.”

THE ARTIST REVEALED: ARTIST PORTRAITS AND SELF PORTRAITS
WHEN: On view through July 16. Museum hours are Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
WHERE: Pensacola Museum of Art, 407 S. Jefferson St.
COST: $7 adults; $5 military, seniors and children; children under 6 free; PMA members free
DETAILS: pensacolamuseum.org

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More stuff to check out at PMA

Also currently on exhibition:
Highlights from Permanent Collection
View a range of works from PMA’s permanent collection with styles including cubism, realism, pop art, folk art and illustration by artists such as Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Vivian Mair and Ellsworth Kelly. The exhibit is on view through Sept. 17.

Stephen Knapp: Lightpaintings
Using a special glass treated with layers of metallic coatings, artist Stephen Knapp creates the sculptural “lightpaintings.” The exhibit is on view through Aug. 27.

Coming Soon:
Mary Petty: The Life and Art of Mary Petty
Petty was an illustrator of books and magazines, perhaps most well-known for creating the Peabody family featured on about 40 covers of The New Yorker as well as 273 drawings. She was also an illustrator for books including T.H. Robsjohn Gibbing’s “Good-bye, Mr. Chippendale” and “Homes of the Brave.” The exhibit will open with a reception on Friday, July 22 at 7:30 p.m. and will be on view through Oct. 8.

Special Event:
Murder Mystery at PMA
Experience the museum from a different perspective by participating in the Murder Mystery at the Museum starting at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 25. Guests will each be pre-assigned with a specific alias to portray throughout the night. You’ll be given clues about other guests and their involvement—or lack thereof—in the murder mystery as well. PMA staff will lead staff through the series of events and the night will conclude by divulging all of the details and arresting the murderer. Tickets are $60. For more information, or to register, contact Suzanne Duvall at 432-6247 or suzanne@pensacolamuseum.org.