But the intensity of the earlier portrait with its frontality, its leanin. David Hockney even claims that photography is now a kind of painting, since any shape or color can be created.
Where, and when, exactly is the referent? Is this the portrait of an individual? A particular moment? A process of transformation? I wondered whether a photo that was clearly not posed would be appropriate. I knew that photographs were being taken during my lecture, so what I sent to Luca qualified. The face seemed active and expressive: quizzical, even a bit hopeful. When the first rendering appeared on my screen, I was drawn to its roughly-painted vitality.
Two versions later, I still prefer it to the finished work, though I like that too. The painting closely resembled the original image, but with a realism quite different from a photographic record. It seemed to be the portrait of another person. I was accustomed to confronting myself in photographs. Like an early morning glimpse in the bathroom mirror, they were unwelcome correctives for the imaginary self-image I normally live with.
Unexpectedly, this portrait freed me from reactions based on vanity or ego. The colors, while flattening a spatial field, added temporal depth: evidence of making, unmaking, remaking. I discovered not a person or even a moment, something captured once and for all, but instead a process, marks of transformation. His hair is streaked with red filaments. More subtly, the blue of the shirt collar bleeds upwards into the cheeks, eyes, ear and hair, softening to a blue-grey that actively complements the background.
Patches of this bluish grey or is it greyish blue can be found all over the face, especially on its less-illuminated side. Here the skin relatively smooth in the photo appears to be gouged, or plastered. A body that both yields and resists. A painted portrait is manifestly a picture of someone altered by time, ageing and therefore dying.
But having now joined his Academy, I feel a certain melancholy. Where and when are we, this gathering of intellectuals? And from the late 20 th Century the time our ideas were formed. The photo portrait I chose had seemed quizzical to me, even a bit hopeful. Anxious inwardness and anxiety have emerged.
The lines of the brow and on one cheek are deeper; a mouth that once hinted at a downturned smile is now more compressed, weighted with pigment; one eye seems, at times, to be looking in a slightly different direction from the other, unfocused. But I also feel something more impersonal at work: a historical context that subtly determines the painting and the viewing. Every so often I watch my wife doing her make-up in front of our large wardrobe-mirror, and, looking at her reflection, I feel disturbingly alarmed: the mirrored person is a stranger.
My own reflection in contrast seems to radiate invariably the sturdy presence of a long-known personality; not so the familiar looking woman at my side. I even remember furtively shifting my gaze to scrutinize her facial traits in the flesh for symptoms of this haunting metamorphosis. Or have I been looking for reassurance? Anyway, the paired comparisons in front of the mirror had been a source of recurring small irritations and reconsiderations covering all the small angles of sustained matrimonial union. Luca Del Baldo's project brought these fleeting impressions and musings into sharper focus.
Why does my visual identity, established by photographic techniques, appear so much less prone to mirroring-transformation? Is my face less uneven — hence less beautiful or characteristic — than my wife's? Or is it just my private self-justifying observance that does not tolerate a greater schism between reality and reflection while the dearest human at my side seems to suffer, in my incoherent perceptions, from a marked split of essence and mirrored appearance? Male obsessions with the dangers of mirror-inversion have a noble ancestry. Immanuel Kant addressed the riddles in his Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics: "What indeed can be more similar to, and in all parts more equal to, my hand or my ear than its Image in the mirror?
And yet I cannot put such a hand as is seen in the mirror in the place of its original; for if the one was a right hand, then the other in the mirror is a left, and the image of the right ear is a left one, which can never take the place of the former. In the mathematician Felix Klein described a strange piece of 'plumbing': If the ends of a rubber-pipe could be joined in such a way that they had to intersect in 3D, an object with only one boundless surface would be formed. The first illustration indeed looked like a crazy piece of sanitary installation. In the s French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan adopted the Klein-bottle to explain his eccentric views of psychic imbalances.
What relevance have such vaguely esoteric excursions for the appreciation of Luca Del Baldo's enterprise in general or at least in regard of my ritratto? On the other hand, the case of my wife's estrangement by mirroring had to be left aside. Instead I had to fit myself into the selected series of portraits whose originators may have administered similar or quite different thoughts.
A few of the painterly 'counterfeit identities' were attached to Luca's communications; commentaries as well. But there was no obvious in-group debate at hand. What could save me from feeling like a partially blind passenger on a merry-go-round? To dare a shortcut conclusion: Facing a mirror and looking sideways at other persons became a painterly topic with the production of larger sheets of flat glas.
But the rules of representation are no longer restricted to plain Euclidian geometry. What then might be the hidden agenda of a personality-painter like Luca?
Which signals are amplified by his artistic brain-activity? Should we take the obvious brushwork of his photo-replicas for a simile of not yet specified settings hovering above the tiny tremors of quantum-fluctuations that pervade all possible communication? Modern science and cosmology suggest that we are living in a huge hologram with our senses completely attuned to such contorted conditions. We had faces!
They all came into being when an artist contemplated and recorded the human face. What could be a more primal, irreducible act than that? The face of our mother is the first sight we see after birth; we are programmed to be acutely sensitive to the forms and expressions of faces. I probably could have built an argument to that effect with some well-chosen examples. The results of this sampling revealed that the depiction of faces is subject to the same kind of artistic and cultural choices as everything else in art, mother bonding or not.
In all of these photos on and off screen, Gloria Swanson is projecting a persona. Some are movie roles, but even in the others, she is putting on a face. If there is a mode in which she is not acting, in which her face assumes an expression of its own, she has been able to keep it out of sight. Strangely, the expression of her film faces does not look any more forced than the snapshots. Great actress that she was, she lived her roles, endowing her characters with all the humanity in her.
This possibility alerts us at once to the real existence of not a zero but a maximalist mode of facial depiction: the face as a living mask. From a sample of silent-movie stars on another Google search, it would seem that Gloria Swanson was an extreme case. The off-screen photos of some others show them in what looks like a natural guise, while the role-playing is more visibly theatrical. Professionalism and personality are more clearly distinguished from each other. It would seem like her point is well taken. These actors did need dialogue to get their characters and actions across.
There appears moreover to be less of a distinction between the studio portraits and the stills from their parts. What they are conveying depended on text and context. This characteristic has been explored by Ann Jensen Adams in her book of Public faces and private identities in seventeenth-century Holland: portraiture and the production of community.
Faces like these. This state was internal and nonresponsive; nevertheless, it portrayed to the seventeenth-century viewer an attribute of personality as important and a specific as those employed by Rembrandt in his portraits of men in active poses.
This neo-Stoic state of tranquillitas was achieved through control of the turbulent emotions. His sitters never smile, let alone laugh. There no teeth to be seen in Rembrandt portraits. If only! This is not the same thing as expressing our emotions. We are freer to present ourselves this way because our status as authorities and intellectuals is already established by being included in the academy. She was not alone, nor was the attitude she expresses limited to the movies alone. Few art historians would agree with that statement, as many times as it might be said.
Our first inclination would be to tell Walker Evans that words cannot be avoided in responses to art, that even when a text is lacking, there is always a context and a subtext, that a work of art is always entangled in more than one discourse, more than one narrative. That would also be my inclination. But who of us does not understand what Evans means? Do works of visual art not enjoy more than one existence, in the purely optical realm as well as in the overcommentaried culture? And do we not walk past or skip over visually disappointing paintings and photos without stopping to ask what they might mean?
They engage us on their own, as a gallery of portraits worthy of contemplation and rumination one by one and as a group. Copyright by Gary Schwartz, When I was a teenager, I was an enthusiastic amateur artist, in a realist mode, graduating from still life — I was quite good at reflections on bottles — to architectural drawings and watercolours of interiors.
I never dared attempt portraits — the problem is that everyone recognizes a likeness, or the failure to achieve one. I used to believe that these portraits and especially the preparatory sketches, which seem more spontaneous, reveal the character of the sitters, such as Thomas More and Thomas Cromwell. Perhaps I still do. In English history, More has traditionally been a hero, while Cromwell, if not exactly a villain, has been portrayed by historians as cunning, ruthless and possibly brutal.
The novelist Hilary Mantel has recently tried to reverse the two images in her recent historical novels, making More into a sadist who believes in burning heretics and may be a pedophile, while Cromwell is an ideal husband and father in a twenty-first-century style rather than a sixteenth-century one. As a cultural historian, I am interested in portraits as evidence for the ideals dominant in a particular place and time and illustrated by the manner in which individuals are presented in paint; their postures, gestures, clothes armour as a sign of upper-class masculinity, even for individuals who were never in battle, and high or low-cut dresses as a thermometer of the sexual mores of a given period.
It is fascinating to view the objects with which different kinds of sitter are associated — classical columns and velvet curtains in the age of the baroque, swords for men, fans for women, dogs big hunting dogs for male aristocrats, puppies for their wives , deferential servants for important people, books for scholars and so on. Even a head-and-shoulders portrait can be revealing.
What kind of necklace or ear-rings is she wearing? The artist may insist on a particular pose, like the photographer in Hamburg who produced the image of me that Luca used as his base. Thank you, Luca! Copyrights by Peter Burke. A comfortable old shoe of a mug. An unremarkable face that you will not pick out of a crowd or hopefully a police line-up. Ordinary, well-aged and of course, largely inscrutable to me. I had a friend - no, she was once blurted out. Do you even know what that is? In truth, I did not have a clue. But when she explained, I was flabbergasted.
No, I guess I did not have a 'persona', although it was clear that she did. The instant that this tough, a transfiguring solemnity. It was both a projection of her profound seriousness about her work and a way of reassuring patients, mainly young women who carried images of analysts as gray-bearded father figures, that she had the mojo they needed. Also her skill at enacting this person enforced respect from the greybeards and obnoxious academics who were her colleagues.
It was not an act. Years later, after innumerable failures, I published a notorious book on Los Angeles that gathered some attention. Amongst other things I have written about the police. After the eruption, the New Yorker called me to be a few days to take Richard Avedon to the parts of LA that were invisible from Mulholland Drive. Ronald Reagan, but was also hoping to meet some of the activists in Southcentral L. He turned out to be fearless, charming and disarmingly kind.
They agreed to a group photograph. Reagan had been photographed earlier in the day. I was very nervous about how I would frame this group of men, the protagonists of a gang truce that was close to being a social miracle. Hyperbolic and exploitative stereotype on numerous books and CD covers; the Original Gangster OG with tatooed bicepts like sequoia trunks holding an Uzi. Avedon might be a world-famous master, but would not be the same temptation?
My anxiety was unncessary. Mathew Brady-era carefully focused camera box. It resembled Rodin's 'Burghers of Calais. The photo is part of his unpublished legacy, but will someday, I believe, be regarded as an icon of hopes arising from ruins. Luca works from a found object - in my case a literally random photo, the only recent one I could locate. Then by some mysterious process that I assume includes some familiarity with the subject's writing and probably a hypothesis or two about their character, he gives back to them their enigma, partly intepreted perhaps, but also overlaid with new questions.
In my case, the question of persona remains, in the dual sense of performed self and earned character, but I won't venture an opinion because I'm obnoxious when I think about myself. Still wouldn't we all like to become one of those old photographs at a rummage sale that someone picks from the pile and says 'Hm, wonder what this cat was like?
The photograph from which this portrait was created is so bland that my face now speaks to me, as the photo did not. I remember the photograph was taken in the streets in Stirling in Scotland. I was wearing the loveliest scarf, which I managed to lose on that trip. I am in an obscure way glad that the scarf has lost its special detail in the portrait.
And why? Since I am not the one who initiated this portrait, it is hard for me to comment on it, especially since I am in India, not looking at it while I dictate this response. I have a peculiar resistance to making of me a plausible object. A little before his death, Edward W.
Said told Tariq Ali that he should get a memoir out of me because my life had been interesting. And yet, just a fortnight ago I was overwhelmed by a request from another well-known portraitist for having me as his object. I hope he will not ask me to write anything on what he produces. In the s, Jim Lechay wanted to paint a picture of me wearing a blonde wig. After five sittings, he destroyed it saying it was too strong for the canvas. I have no idea what he meant. So, I think I will remain as inarticulate as I manage to have been in the presence of myself represented as I have always been.
But thank you, Luca. Copyrights by Gayatri Chkravorty Spivak. All rights reserved, Tout au plus pouvons-nous formuler notre propre vision du. Le visionnaire. Le philosophe Descartes ne. Il est vrai que. La photo, de fait, est. But though it may seem strange given the life I lead, I have always preferred to be very private, and apart from necessity, would gladly remain so. That carries over to listening to my own voice, answering personal questions, writing anything autobiographical that goes beyond what is part of the public sphere — and contemplating a portrait of myself and trying to articulate the thoughts it arouses.
For better or worse. I sometimes reflect upon the fact that I can never see my face when I am giving a lecture. I only reflect on that condition after the lecture because during the lecture I have no face, even though, for others, I may be all face. It is not that I imagine myself faceless, but that I do not imagine anything at all. At times, I am aware that I am swaying or moving as a way to keep the words coming forth and moving out. At that point, I am more like a body in motion and the words are the verbal forms of movement.
But the face is nowhere, except, of course, that it belongs to the head, and the head must try to move between page and audience, even when the audience cannot be seen on a video or in an auditorium where the light is blinding. So it is with some surprise that I learn that I have a face when I speak, since it seems to me that the speaking comes from the lungs and from the cavity that holds the lungs, from the torso that holds the lungs, and from the kinaesthetic body that either sits or stands and so lets the whole sequence of speech move forward. The face is necessary, but perhaps only as part of an opaque cranial region, one whose main purpose is to achieve and keep posture so that this exhalation of words can take place.
Of course, I know I am seen from elsewhere, but I do not see that seeing. And on those few occasions when I look at myself as others might, I recoil from the scene. If I take that point of view, I lose my speech, so I can only speak by forgetting the face that makes it possible. After all, the face belongs to you, not me, so to keep my words or, rather, to give them, I must use my face or, rather, let my face use my words. And this happens without ever apprehending it from the outside. I am trying to get outside with my words, and they are already before me and outside me, so whatever is spoken through the mouth that edges onto the face, whose edge helps to make the face, is something I cannot grasp with sight.
I could not speak watching myself. But perhaps I could and would speak with my eyes closed. This, exactly, is what I felt when I first saw Luca del Baldo's oil portrait of myself: all the inner despairs and doubts lurking in me are there open to see. It is not a flattering portrait, but it is "me" much more than my photos. It is a "me" that I often do not like, but nonetheless a "me' that I am. Last summer my husband Rusten, myself, and our dog Cayenne walked in the fossil beds at John Day National Monument in the Painted Hills of eastern Oregon, where 60 million years of mammalian evolution, in folded and gapped layer after layer, open up like rocky flowers on sere, denuded hillsides streaked in mineral reds and purples.
Dog-family fossils and residues of flowering plants—and, in the more recent layers 10 million years ago or so, grasses—are especially rich and diverse in these Painted Hills. To me, these traces suggested painted narrative portraits that seemed both expansive and compressed, full of living and full of dying, momentary and enduring all at once, frozen in rock and open to what was not yet in time, flesh, and space. The layered and ongoing species assemblages are harder to discern, but they are there, in presences and absences. I am drawn by the woman in the painting; she seems thoughtful, and she meets my gaze in an invitation to think with each other, and maybe to walk with each other in entangled, biodiverse times of layered and gapped living and dying.
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The woman in that painting based on a photo taken in would have been with Cayenne in her office, writing essays that became a record of companionship called When Species Meet. Like all the bumptious world, Cayenne is just beyond the frame of the photo and painting. Time both compresses and opens up in the face of such fragments. That painted woman is no more me than the fossil dogs of different families and genera are Cayenne or any contemporary dog.
But we all—painted, sedimented, thinking, and walking—compose together the pigment-brushed traces in the hills of terran landscapes that are still at stake. Tre cose mi colpiscono nel progetto ritrattistico di Luca del Baldo. In tal modo le persone del gruppo che spesso non si sono mai incontrate fra loro diventano i co-protagonisti di una larga e intensa conversazione che deborda dai margini del quadro, e sotto la regia del pittore si propone come l'imprevista istantanea di un'epoca, la nostra.
Individuo e gruppo possono perfino essere in dissidio fra loro, suggerire dissensi e divaricazioni; o convergenze impensate; o discorsi in sospeso. Parole non dette si sprigionano dai volti. Parlano al pittore, ma anchedel pittore e del suo interesse profondo nell'esplorare, nei volti, l'animo umano. Car il est inacceptable pour moi de me retrouver dans une galerie de philosophes parmi tant de noms prestigieux. Je peux le regarder sereinement et le voir — le mien, je ne peux le regarder, ni le voir.
Que vois-je dans Nietzsche? Que reste-t-il de ces deux visages? Je ne sais Ici : un fragment du monde dans deux visages. Deux visages qui sont deux mondes.
Questa storia, a differenza di ogni altro mito, ha un autore. Questo ora Narciso sa. Sa la morte. Cerco di guardare nel nodo in cui si stringono motivazioni diverse. Un ritratto ad olio richiede invece tempo. E molte cose capitano nel corso del tempo. Cosa avrebbe trovato Luca Del Baldo nelle lunghe ore in cui con spatola e pennelli lavorava dentro i miei lineamenti?
E poi ancora: cosa avrei trovato io guardandomi nel ritratto? Le vie del tempo sono inevitabilmente anche via di patimento. Sono una imitazione di una imitazione. Noi gli affidiamo i nostri tratti, ma anche le parole che ci hanno reso quello che siamo e quello che sembriamo. Forse egli si sta trasformando in un filosofo, anche se un filosofo che lavora con il pennello. Il compito non ha termine. He made an intriguing choice of a photograph to use not to mention a face to depict. And he created an intense, compelling, vibrant depiction from it.
Despite my admiration, however, the portrait makes me very uncomfortable, partly no doubt because it is of me, with its unsettling combination of strangeness and familiarity, but also because the guy in the portrait is too close for comfort, even when I stand well back from the canvas! That of course is part of what makes the painting so powerful. It is a wonderful work of art. I will display it somewhere, but not over my desk. I merely mention, here, what I take to be the most fundamental and most important difference: To look at a photograph of a turtle or a philosopher is actually to see it; one sees the object, indirectly, by seeing its photographic representation.
Looking at a painting, by contrast, one sees only the representation, not the turtle or philosopher.