Hello and welcome to my new art blog, annacruse.com! Here you will find updates and plenty of images and videos covering the latest exhibitions, fairs and auctions from all over the art world, as well as discussions about (mainly) portraiture as a form of art.
I have always found paintings of people to be particularly interesting. When I was very young, I was lucky enough to be lovingly dragged around the many wonderful galleries and museums that London has to offer by my fantastic parents. Most of my memories of these trips in the early days consist of constantly queuing for ladies bathrooms and begging my parents to buy me colourful pencil toppers from various gift shops. But, as I grew older (and particularly when I became a teenager) I began to actually pay attention to artworks around me. I would take a moment to read the titles and descriptions of the paintings on the walls. I developed preferences for different artists and the museums that housed their work. I began to comprehend the idea of different time periods, and realised that Da Vinci and Van Gogh probably didn’t know each other. It was around this time that I recall deciding upon a firm favourite spot on the London art gallery trail: the National Portrait Gallery.
The portraits there afforded me glimpses into the lives
of the people they depicted: the way that they wanted to be seen or perhaps the way that the artist saw them. I could engage with Henry VIII in a way that had never been possible from the pages of my history books, and was free to stare Prince Charles in the eye for as long as I liked. Although the word portraiture encompasses a vast array of work, paintings of specific people frequently seem to be loaded with layers of meaning, allowing the viewer to dive in and explore every corner of each canvas, relating whatever they find back to the central figure(s). I think that this is partly why portraiture continues to be so popular in the art market today. At the end of 2014, several portraits exceeded their estimates significantly when sold at auction. A portrait of Lady Ludlow
sold for almost four times its upper estimate when sold at Christie's in London last month, and another depicting Henri Fantin Latour (pictured right)
fetched over five times its upper estimate, achieving $215,000 at a Sotheby's New York sale in November.
Whilst each buyer surely has his or her own priorities when purchasing a portrait, I can't help but feel like there is something about portraiture and its supposed layers that will always draw us in. It was the process of picking apart meaning in artworks that first drew me to the study of them and indeed, it is what compelled me to start this blog and ask some more questions about portraiture and what it could mean in contemporary society. Do we still need new portraiture in an age when cameras are ubiquitously carried in every pocket? Indeed, what role does photography play in a discussion about portraiture? What could a portrait say, if anything, that one's social media presence doesn't?
These are some of the questions that I will explore throughout this blog, with a view to expanding the conversation about portraiture more generally. As such, your comments are completely welcome and very much appreciated on each post. I hope you enjoy the blog!