The exhibition Portrait of the Artist As… looks at the ways in which artists have portrayed themselves, their peers, and their predecessors from the 18th century to the present day.
Inspired by the unique pairing of two powerful masterpieces, Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear (1889), and Francis Bacon’s Study for a Portrait of Van Gogh VI (1957), it uses works from a variety of media to show the richness, complexity, and singularity of the artist’s position within our culture, and addresses the many and varied implications of asserting an artistic identity.
Portrait of the Artist As… has been curated by students on the MA course Curating the Art Museum, and draws on the holdings of two major collections, The Courtauld Gallery and The Arts Council Collection.
Several of the students have written ‘spotlight’ essays, offering insight into the artworks and their creators, and addressing themes of artistic inspiration, influence, process and method.
This 2012 exhibition was been co-curated by the following 13 MA students: Noura Al-Maashouq / Grace Ambrose / Shira Barak / Sandra Boks / Sarah Capes / Elizabeth Carney / Sascha Feldman / Davida Fernandez-Barkan / Jenny Foot / Mardee Goff / Stefanie Lenk / George Mogg / Meredith More
Hailing from Great Britain, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Germany, and the Netherlands, the students have cut their teeth at museums and galleries all over the world and have come to the Courtauld Institute to hone their curatorial skills.
Several months, dozens of meetings with art world professionals, and an unspecified amount of chocolate later, Portrait of the Artist As… stands as a unique merging of two significant collections that explores artistic identity and process over four centuries.
About the course
The MA course Curating the Art Museum, led by Martin Caiger-Smith, is aimed at art curators of the future.
Its purpose is to extend and develop graduates’ art historical interests, expertise and scholarship into the area of curatorship and active engagement with collections and exhibitions in the museum and gallery realm.
It puts the physical object back at the heart of curatorial training and sets specialist knowledge firmly within the context of the modern museum and the expanding remit of the art curator in the 21st century.
The curators of the exhibition are all students on The Courtauld’s MA Programme Curating the Art Museum. Several have written texts expanding on the exhibition. These ‘spotlight’ essays offer insight to many of the artworks and their creators, addressing themes of artistic inspiration and influence, as well as process and method.
These texts are intended as extensions of the exhibition and aim to provide further information and insightful anecdotes to those who are interested in learning more about the exhibition and the works on display.
| Spotlight on Jonathan Richardson the Elder
Examining the works of Jonathan Richardson the Elder, a prominent portraitist and art theorist in the 18th century.
| Roger Fry: Aligning Himself with the Half Idiot, Half Divine
Roger Fry may have revered Paul Cézanne, but his opinion of what it takes to be a great artist is perhaps not what we might expect.
| Sarah Lucas’ Self Portraits 1990-1998
Sascha Feldman and Davida Fernandez-Barkan
Sarah Lucas uses various props to examine her image as an artist. The ways in which she presents herself and her legacy as a feminist artist are discussed here.
|Male Bonding: Francis Bacon meets Lucian Freud
How a recent discovery by Christie’s Auction House has revealed an intriguing insight into the relationship between Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud.
| Gilbert & George: A Portrait of the Artists as Young Men
Gilbert & George capitalise on the idea of the “solitary artist” – yet, as a pair, they are fundamentally never alone. This spotlight explores how their video A Portrait of the Artists As Young Men fits into the exhibition as well as their career.
| ‘A Specific Kind of Eye’: Richard Hamilton’s Polaroid Portraits
An impromptu snapshot shows the friendship between Richard Hamilton and filmmaker Derek Jarman, created in a series of Polaroid Portraits, and how the particular character of an artist may appear even through a photograph.
| ‘By Different Device: Polaroid Portraits of the Artist As…
Two artists in the exhibition, Richard Hamilton and Saul Fletcher, use the medium of Polaroid. Read on to find out why this medium can produce a particularly powerful portrait.
| ‘Interview with Glenn Brown’
A conversation between Glenn Brown and Mardee Goff regarding his work Decline and Falland his working methods, recorded at Brown’s studio in East London on 7 June 2012