“Face Value: Portraiture in the Age of Abstraction” will feature mid-20th century artists who were reinventing portraiture at a moment when almost everyone agreed that figuration was dead as a progressive art form. The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery has gathered more than 50 paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture from approximately 1945 to 1975 to demonstrate the innovations of American portraiture despite the vogue for abstraction. The exhibition opens today, April 18 and runs through Jan. 11, 2015.
During this period, Chuck Close recalled, “the dumbest, most moribund, out-of-date and shopworn of possible things you could do was to make a portrait.” And yet, with startling freshness and a touch of defiance, a group of young artists demonstrated the value of exploring the face and figure. “At a time when most artists viewed portraiture as dead or dying, these artists pressed forward with their work and explored new