Johnstone, F., Imber, K.

Anti-Portraiture: Challenging the Limits of the Portrait., 2020

View publication

Anti-Portraiture: Challenging the Limits of the Portrait is the first collection of essays to explore portraits that contest and transcend the established conventions of their genre. In the disciplines of art history and visual culture the portrait is typically understood as an artistic representation of a unique human subject: scholarly emphasis is placed on the significance of visual and psychological likeness, or on the expression of personal, familial or social identity. Significantly, the very notion of the ‘human subject’ has been actively shaped by historical portrait practices, with the traditional portrait strongly associated with the self-determining, privileged individual of Western modernity. While recent scholarship in the humanities and social sciences has responded to the complexities of contemporary subjectivity with new conceptual models, theorizations of the portrait have largely failed to keep pace.

Examining works in a range of media including sculpture, photography, installation, and sound art, this collection of essays makes the case for an expanded definition of portraiture, and presents fresh paradigms for thinking about subjectivity, embodiment and representation. Offering a timely reappraisal of the terms through which portraiture is conventionally approached, Anti-Portraitureaims to shape future academic debate and influence curatorial practices and institutional acquisition policies.

Johnstone, F. and Imber, K. Eds. Anti-Portraiture: Challenging the Limits of the Portrait. London: Bloomsbury, 2020. ISBN: 9781784534127.