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Exposition Collection

Musée d’art Urbain et Contemporain (Munich – Allemagne)

18/07 – 04/11/2018


Communiqué de presse disponible en anglais uniquement.


In February 2006, Archaeologists have discovered what they believe to be a 27,000-year-old drawing of a face, which would make it the oldest in history. The eye is a bold horizontal slash that connects to a downward diagonal apparently signifying a nose; below is a thinner line suggesting a mouth. These features are drawn in black on a face-shaped rocky mass in a cave near Angoulême in western France.

Portraiture is a very old art form going back at least to ancient Egypt, where it flourished from about 5,000 years ago. Before the invention of photography, a painted, sculpted, or drawn portrait was the only way to record the appearance of someone. During the Renaissance portraits have been representing wealthy, royal and religious figures and with the Baroque time, we start to see portraits of the common man influenced by humanist philosophy, emphasizing the individual and collective value of human beings. For example, we see these ideas in the works of artists like Vermeer: The Girl with the Pearl Earring. With the 19th century during the age of reason, and the industrial revolution that increased the standard of living, the activity of panting could be brought into the homes of the middle class. The mass production and the increased standard of living made easier for artists to have access to art supplies and encouraged painter to portrait working-class subjects, for example, The Stonebreakers of Courbet. In the early 20th century, portraits turned away from classical and formal portrait, and focused instead on new ways of presenting reality. The social and moral upheaval caused by the catastrophe of World War I had a major effect on fine art painting. In particular, it undermined the tradition of figure painting and figure drawing, and abstract art began to dominate all genres, including portraiture. Not until the Pop Art movement, did representational art make a significant reappearance. By the 1960s and 1970s, there was a revival of portraiture and English artists such as Lucian Freud (grandson of Sigmund Freud) and Francis Bacon, for instance, have produced powerful paintings during that time.

Nowadays we live in an age of self-portraiture increasely known as the ‘age of selfies’. The selfie is a smartphone produced version of a selfportrait, which has been a staple of photography. In 2010 the front-facing camera was introduced and the golden age of the selfie was born. Now ‘Selfie’ has been declared by Oxford Dictionaries as their ‘2013 Word of the Year’ and we’ve seen the likes of David Cameron, Barack Obama and even the pope participating in the photographic craze.

IMAGO is a show dedicated to the history of Portrait: over 30 artists coming from 5 different continents are invited to pay homage and interpret a portrait of their choice and medium. Artists are encouraged, but not obligated to choose a reference portrait from their own country and of any historical time. IMAGO aims to lead visitors through different artistic eras, helping discover the international history and evolution of the portrait.

Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art
Hotterstrasse 12, 80331 Munich – Allemagne
Ouvert tous les jours de 10h à 20h
Fermé le mardi.


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