Portraits. We know what they are, but why do we make them? Americans have been celebrating themselves in portraits since the arrival of the first itinerant portrait painters in the colonies. They created images to commemorate loved ones, glorify the famous, establish national myths, and honor our shared heroes.
Whether painting in oil, carving in stone, casting in bronze, capturing on film, or calculating in binary code, we spend considerable time creating, contemplating, and collecting our likenesses. This exhibit, which brings together ninety portraits from more than twenty collections, explores and explains why Americans have been fascinated with images of themselves for more than 300 years.
Exhibition overview from museum website
Whether you go or not, the sumptuously illustrated exhibition catalog, American Faces: A Cultural History of Portraiture and Identity, explores our collective understanding of portraiture, its history in America, how it shapes our individual and national identity, and why we make portraits—whether for propaganda and public influence or for personal and private appreciation. American Faces is a rich and fascinating view of ourselves.