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Archive for Sunday, April 18, 1999

SELF-PORTRAITS

April 18, 1999

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"Portraits: The Artist in Print," a new exhibition at the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art, examines how artists represent themselves in self-portraits and portraits created by other artists.

The depiction of the artist at work and leisure is the focus of a new exhibit at the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art on the Kansas University campus.

"Portraits: The Artist in Print" includes nearly 50 prints, drawings and photographs from the 16th to the 20th centuries. The artwork was selected from the museum's collection by Erin Barnett, a photography intern, and Rachel Buller, an intern in the prints and drawings department.

Both graduate students in art history at KU, the pair organized the South Balcony Gallery show to complement the main exhibit, "Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills with additional Sherman Works from the Eli Broad Family Foundation Collection."

Sherman's work primarily explores the portrayals of gender in popular cultural icons such as B-movies. In doing so, Sherman's stills feature the artist posed in various female movie roles. Although Sherman did not intend her work to be self-portraits, the artist's appearance in the photographs is a characteristic shared by "Portraits: The Artist in Print."

According to Buller, self-portraiture is a common theme in art. "Portraits: The Artist in Print" includes both self-portraits and images of artists created by other artists.

"When we began pulling them out, we were surprised at the number of portraits and self-portraits in the museum's collection," Buller said.

Through its focus on the artist, self-portraiture emphasizes the individual's identity.

"The exhibition is looking at how artists represent themselves," Buller said.

Items that show artists identifying themselves with their work include Arthur Rothstein's 1949 photograph of John Morin in his studio and Imogen Cunningham's 1958 "Self-portrait at Geary Street."

Other pieces, such as Lee Friedlander's 1969 print of artist Jim Dine swimming, are leisure-themed works. Friedlander's piece is especially notable; not only were Friedlander and Dine artistic collaborators and close friends, but the work's informal setting also places the artist in a larger social arena.

By including informal settings, Buller said, the exhibition also highlights the transition from the 16th century's formal frontal portraiture to the informal settings of the 20th century.

The stylistic range reflects the Spencer Museum's strong prints and photography section.

"It's a good chance to showcase what the Spencer has," Barnett said.



IMAGES OF ARTISTS

What: "Portraits: The Artist in Print."

When: Through May 23.

Where: Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art on the Kansas University campus.

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