From ancient times to the present, portraiture has represented the people of its day and the complex social, political and cultural moments in which each subject and artist lived. Through an investigation of historical portraits, we can speculate on the intention of the artist, the identity of the sitter, and the narrative attached to the history of art and, more generally, history. These portraits remain relevant today not only as valuable vestiges of the past that offer insight into these historical periods, but also because the concepts and aesthetic conventions of these artworks are used by artists today as reference and source material to respond to the “now.”
People Watching brings together paintings and sculpture from FAM’s collection–principally ancient busts, Western paintings from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, and African sculptures–with artworks by thirteen contemporary artists from New England to explore the way that observation and representation of the human subject has shifted over time.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.