One to Another

June 26, 2010

Contemporary companion portraits – by Damien Hirst

Filed under: 2-Precedents — pendantportraits @ 12:13 am

Press Release found at

“Identical twins search now on at National Gallery

Ottawa (Ontario) – February 17, 2010

Twins to appear in a performance work by Damien Hirst this summer

The National Gallery of Canada (NGC) is doubling up with Damien Hirst in its search for identical twins who are willing to take part in a recreation of the artist’s 1992 performance Ingo, Torsten. Successful candidates will perform in conjunction with the NGC’s summer exhibition Pop Life: Art in a Material World, organized by Tate Modern and on view from June 11 to September 19, 2010.

In 1992, at the Cologne Unfair art fair, British artist Damien Hirst commissioned a set of identical twins named Ingo and Torsten to spend time sitting in front of his trademark spot paintings. Dressed in identical clothing, the twins could read, knit or even play chess, so long as their actions were alike. Titled after the twins, the performance was about surface appearances, individuality, and making a scene.

Now, in 2010, the NGC plans to re-stage this iconic performance and invites identical twins to take part in this recreation and to become works of art in their own right.

Applicant requirements
Twins must be aged 18 or over and identical in stature, height and appearance. During the performance, successful applicants must wear identical clothes and footwear, and have matching hairstyles and hair colour. Shifts for each performance will be four hours in length. Ideally, the twins will be able to commit to two to four shifts during the span of the exhibition.

How to apply
Twins are invited to apply by sending their name, contact information and two photographs of themselves – one full body shot and one headshot to or by regular mail to: Twins Project, Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1N 9N4. All applications must be received by May 7, 2010. Successful applicants will be notified by email.

All participants will be compensated for their time and will also be presented with a photographic memento of their performance, signed by Damien Hirst. Please note that participants must pay for their own travel expenses to participate.

Pop Life: Art in a Material World explores the complex relationship between contemporary art, marketing and the mass media. Beginning in the 80s with the late work of American Pop artist Andy Warhol, the exhibition proposes a re-reading of his legacy and explores how some of today’s high-profile media-savvy artists have followed his lead, embracing commerce and celebrity as the foundations of their work. The NGC is the sole North American venue for this unprecedented exhibition.”


May 6, 2010

Pendant pairs of a different sort.

Filed under: 2-Precedents, 5-Related Topics, 6-On Exhibit — pendantportraits @ 9:24 pm

I am working with a group of students in PNTG 415 Painting Senior Seminar. As part of this course, the students mount a group exhibition of new work on a mutually-determined them. The group selected: (id) entity. As they discussed their work, I got an idea of my own, and they welcomed me to join the show as an exhibitor.

In years past, I’ve studied and worked with handwriting analysis on an amateur basis. For the work in this show, I prepared two pieces of archival paper with layers of coffee washes. The washes are more heavily applied within an oval template. Within one of the ovals, I asked the students to write, “identity.” In the other, more or less across from the first, I asked them to place their signature. The works will be presented together within one frame.

The oval window is a sign of the portrait – it stands for the concept of portraiture as icon (the oval is the shape of the face) and symbol (the oval is a convention within Western portraiture). The signature piece, in particular, strikes me as a group portrait. The scale of the signatures varies greatly, and each artist necessarily had to place their signature in relationship to all other signatures that were already made. Scale and placement are metaphors for how, as a group, everyone must work together.

Nani at Ex Libris Frame Shop will frame these. She had a left-behind frame (e. g., a steal) with burl veneer that she can cut down to size. I decided to float the drawings (writings) rather than use an overlay mat. The ovals that are created by the difference in the density of the washes are adequate.

February 22, 2010

Second pair of rare pendant portraits of pre-Civil War black couple found in Philly

Filed under: 2-Precedents — pendantportraits @ 11:56 am

November 30, 2009

11/29/09 MoMA – Mirror.

Filed under: 2-Precedents, 3-Museum visits — pendantportraits @ 9:38 am

I began my afternoon at MoMA with “100 Years of Portraiture,” a gallery talk by Larissa Bailiff. In fact, during the one-hour excursion, we looked at portraits by just six artists: Warhol’s Golden Marilyn, Marisol’s LBJ, Spuerri’s Kichka’s Breakfast (a “snared painting”), Kahlo’s Fulang-Chang and I and Self-portrait with Cropped Hair, a Brancusi sculpture, and Picasso’s Three Musicians. Of note, money did not change hands between the artist and subject in any of these works (to the artist for creating the work or to the model for posing for the work).

Fulang-Chang and I, a companion set, was directly relevant to this project. To the right of the painting by Frieda with her beloved pet is a mirror in a matching, yet larger, frame. The wall text states that Frieda gave the work (both pieces) to a close friend (Mary Sklar) saying that she could simply look in the mirror if she wanted to be with Frieda.

In the nearby Self-portrait with Cropped Hair, Kahlo asserts her capacity to be without Diego. She writes, “Look, if I loved you it was because of your hair. Now that you are without hair, I don’t love you anymore,” a lyric from a Mexican song. I commented, “She is Samson to her own Delilah.” Rather than strength, she chooses to take away her love. In fact, Kahlo did not cut her hair; she didn’t need to — she did it in the painting.

There was a lot to see at MoMA today, including drawings from the Rothschild collection and the ever-wonderful permanent collection. The spot for Giacometti’s portrait of Annette, however, was filled by Bacon’s screaming pope.

August 31, 2009

Profile as metaphor.

Filed under: 2-Precedents, 5-Related Topics — pendantportraits @ 4:00 pm

Roberti_1480_GiovanniIlBentivoglio_54x39cm_NGA Roberti_1480_Ginevra_Bologna_54x39cm_NGA

Inexpensive prints of these famous portraits by Roberti from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D. C. have been on display in our home for more than fifteen years. At the moment, they are in our kitchen. Giovanni Il Bentivoglio is shown at left; his wife, Ginevra, is at right. Painted around 1480, the urban landscape (Bologna) behind them is continuous, which puts the subjects at an intimate distance from one another, literally, at arm’s reach. Desire H. thought that their posture and gestures suggested that, outside of the image area, they were holding hands.

“Profile portraits were probably preferred because they recall imperial likenesses on ancient Roman coins” < 072909>. The bride and groom coins, below, are Roman companion portraits. Septimius Severus is shown on the coin at left, and Julia Domna, his wife, is shown in a separate coin at right. Both coins are from 194 AD. The coins are discussed at length in “My Favorite Coin” and “Bride of My Favorite Coin” at <>.  Smith was given the Julia Domna coin on the occasion of his 30th wedding anniversary.



Another very famous portrait pair, at right, features the Duke and Duchess of Urbino by Piero de la Francesca.

In terms of form, the profile view presents the broad depth of the head in parallel perspective to the picture plane. It imposes stillness and formality that are appealing; and which have associations with the ideals of marriage and of empire (continuity and permanence).

August 7, 2009

080709 – Boston Museum of Fine Arts – Veronese

Filed under: 2-Precedents, 3-Museum visits — pendantportraits @ 11:44 pm



These companion works are featured in the Titian-Tintoretto-Veronese exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Designed for the family’s palazzo, they are currently owned, respectively, by the Walters Museum in Baltimore, MD and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. It is a treat to see them together.

The catalog has a preliminary drawing of Iseppo and Adriano that shows the ways in which the form evolved. I appreciate the orchestration of the gaze relative to the orientation of the bodies; the play of contrapposto (Porzia) against angelic sway (Adriano); how much the son looks like the father; the psychology of the niche; and the color/tone/temperature shift between the works.

I made two sketches of each work sitting in the midst of the exhibition. I did the sketch on orange paper first, using a bit of colored pencil to enhance the graphite drawing. I returned to the exhibition, and to this pair, to create the second study, which is on paper that I had prepared in advance.

July 11, 2009

Betrothal Portraits

Filed under: 2-Precedents — pendantportraits @ 3:14 pm

Betrothal Portrait of Admiral Binkes by Nicholas Maes 1676. MMA

Maes_couple_1676_Ingena Rotterdam_betrothedof AdmiralBinkes

Betrothal Portrait of Ingena Rotterdam by Nicholas Maes 1676. MMA

Binkes died in battle before the marriage.

His betrothed, Ingena Rotterdam, eventually married someone else.

The frames celebrate masculine and feminine virtues.

July 6, 2009

070609 – SCAD Museum

Filed under: 2-Precedents, 3-Museum visits — pendantportraits @ 3:38 pm


Today I had one-on-one time with the Wright of Derby companion portraits (Greatorex and Burnham) in the SCAD Museum collection (see below). Wright’s mastery of temperature and tonal nuance is a delight. I made pencil studies, focusing on Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Greatorex. Her dress is distinctly green and his coat is midnight blue. The museum text notes that Mr. Greatorex is from Riber Hall, Matlock; in addition to being a manufacturer of nails, he was an amateur musician and is shown with his bassoon. They are described as ‘typical Derby patrons’ and as ‘prosperous but not aristocratic.’ Wright lived 1734 – 1797.

The inclusion and presentation of the bassoon may account for the atypical placement of the wife on the left.




Near right, Mrs. Anthony Greatorex by Wright of Derby, early 1790’s, oil on canvas, 30 x 25″ (SCAD Museum Collection).

Middle right, Mr. Anthony Greatorex by Wright of Derby, early 1790s, oil on cavnas, 30 x 25″ (SCAD Museum Collection).


Portrait of Jonathan Burnham of Shirland, Derby by Wright of Derby, ca. 1790, oil on canvas, 30 x 25" (SCAD Museum Collection).


Portrait of Alethea (or Hannah) Burnham of Shirland, Derby, by Wright of Derby, ca. 1790, oil on canvas, 30 x 25" (SCAD Museum Collection).


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