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About Understanding Portraits - Article Example

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I have selected three images, numbers forty-three, twenty and six. The first image, forty-three depicts a woman caring for a small child being cared for by his mother. The second depicts a young man, and the third an old man. I selected these three images because they have striking differences and similarities to each other…
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Download file to see previous pages I believe these similarities invoke the differences, and that if taken together these three images could be interpreted to show the development of the same subject across different stages of life. As mentioned above, I feel that these portraits could easily have a meaningful relationship to each other. I imagine that they are of the same subject, but depicted at very different ages in life. There are two parallel structures that progress together: the age of the person depicted and the complexity of the elements used in composing the portraits. The first portrait, image forty-three depicts a very young child in the arms of his or her mother. The identity of the child is hidden by the lack of detail in the simple line drawing – there is little to give a face or an identity. The second image, image twenty, differs from the first in both compositional complexity and age. It depicts a young man, fifteen or more years older than the baby depicted in image forty-three, but when displayed together invoking the aging process and making the viewer inherently think that the child in image forty-three might have aged into the man in image twenty. The visual complexity also takes a noticeable jump. While sketch-like elements still remain the form and features of the face have jumped drastically in sharpness, and the shading has moved from a simple check-box and line technique to a blended approach where the shading darkens gradually. In this imagined narrative the third portrait, portrait six, takes another jump in age of the subject. It shows the young man aged into a gnarled, lined old man, who despite his age retains the certain light of the eye from the more youthful portrait. While age here takes its largest leap between the three portraits, visual complexity also takes its largest leap. The overall tone of the composition darkens making the points of light shining off the subject’s eyes forehead and aged white hair become more pronounced. The shading also reaches its apex with entirely fluid transitions from light to dark through the folds of the old man’s face. If I were to arrange these items on a wall I would depict them in the order described, forty-three first, then twenty, then six. This arrangement makes the most sense for several reasons. The first is that the aging narrative makes the most sense in this format; the viewer, seeing three images in somewhat the same style and the same medium of a child, a young man and an old man naturally connects the three into an aging narrative. The second reason for laying these portraits out in this way is that the increase in visual complexity mirrors that of the aging process, which is evocative in several ways. One of the most interesting things about this portrait layout to me is how the narrative of artistic and stylistic progress is juxtaposed to the aging narrative also contained in these images. Moving from the first to the second narrative, one sees a child becoming a man, and the increase in stylistic mirrors the aging process exactly – the child becomes beautiful, fully grown and powerful, mirroring the new more robust art. The narrative changes, however, moving from the second to the third portrait. In this movement one sees the artistic quality increase apace with a far more robust set of abilities and a more complex composition. The ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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