Tag Archives: art

Video: Symmetry Works! Where Math Meets Art

Symmetry is the buzzword on campus this week, as Santa Clara University mathematics professor Frank Farris showcases his unique style of digital art in a major, interdisciplinary, multi-event project called Symmetry Works! A lecture September 12 in Kresge Auditorium kicked off three days of events, including a workshop and a seminar, which are all open to the public. Meanwhile a selection of Farris’s work will be on display in the Main Gallery of the Edwards Center for Art and Dance until Sept. 23.

In his book Creating Symmetry: The Artful Mathematics of Wallpaper Patterns, published in 2015 by Princeton University Press, Farris explained a new process for creating art via computational technology based on the mathematical theory of symmetry. During the summer of 2016, two Bowdoin computer science students helped develop open-source software to make the Farris design process accessible to a wider artistic community.


by Tom Porter

Where Computer Science Meets Abstract Art


Parker Hayes ’17 (left) and Jeonguk Choi ’18

Two computer science majors are spending the summer learning about two of the twentieth century’s most innovative artists: Wassily Kandinsky and Jackson Pollock. Parker Hayes ’17 and Jeonguk Choi ’18 are working on computer programs that can imitate the work of the two painters. No easy task, they both agreed. Both students are working under the supervision of Assistant Professor of Digital and Computational Studies and Computer Science Mohamed T. Irfan, who specializes, among other things, in the image analysis of art.

Imitating Pollock
“We have a long way to go,”  said Choi, who has spent much of the past few weeks staring intently at the paintings of Jackson Pollock, a major figure in the abstract expressionist movement, known for his unique and distinctive style of drip painting. Choi, who was awarded a Kibbe Science Fellowship, has written a program that generates a passable Pollock to the untrained eye. As he activates the computer program, even splashes of color appear on the plasma screen, as curved lines shoot off in apparently random directions. But Choi knows it’s some way from passing the authentication test. “For example if you study the corners, you see the lines have a very homogenous curvature due to the limit on control points. We tried to make them more varied but it didn’t work yet.

No. 5. Jackson Pollock. 1948

No. 5. Jackson Pollock. 1948

“I’ve been trying to figure out the characterstics of the curves that Pollock paints, the thickness of the brush strokes, and all the mathematical properties of his work.” One aspect of the paintings that amazed Choi, and also amazes art critics, is Pollock’s use of fractals: these are naturally occurring, repetitive, physical patterns found, for example, in cloud formations and tree branches. “There’s a well-known algorithm for detecting fractal structures in an image. Using this algorithm, fractals were found in Pollock’s paintings, which is extraordinary because the concept of fractals wasn’t really defined until the 1960s, after Pollock had died.” Choi said the algorithm he employs for imitating Poillock’s paintings makes sure that the “resulting image preserves fractal properties. The next step would be to extend this automatic process to preserve other known mathematical structures, in addition to fractals, in Pollock’s paintings.”

Before undertaking this fellowship, Choi said he had no particular interest in Pollock. “I just thought it was someone throwing paint on the canvas, anyone can do it.” But over the summer his opinion changed: “The more I study Pollock, the more his paintings mean to me. I would definitely go to a Pollock exhibition, given the chance, which is not something I would have said a year ago.”

The Appeal of Kandinsky
Parker Hayes was also drawn to the idea of integrating art and computer science. “It was fun,” he said, adding that he might even take an art history class next year “because I now appreciate art and the work that goes into it much more, especially Kandinsky, who wrote books about his work specifically describing the patterns that he followed.” Like Pollock, Kandinsky is known as a painter of abstract art, but unlike Pollock, Kandinsky’s work is known for its geometric precision.


Composition viii. Wassily Kandinsky. 1923

“For example,” said Hayes, “if you look at Kandinsky’s use of circles, they are generally on the top portion of his paintings, rising like bubbles, with the bigger circles rising higher.” Colors and shades meanwhile represent different feelings and emotions, said Hayes, and it was all clearly defined by Kandinsky, who was known as an art theorist as well as a painter.

“I’m writing a computer program that can take in images of his paintings,” said Hayes, “and then ultimately recreate Kandinsky-like art, using computational algorithms to map out lines, triangles, squares, circles, where they are on the canvas (and where they are not), what angles are used, and whether or not they’re overlapping.” Hayes, the recipient of a Surdna Foundation fellowship, said this automatic mapping process requires an understanding of Kandinsky’s geometric compositions. “For that, we have written a program that automatically identifies all straight line segments in an image. The program can be applied beyond Kandinsky’s paintings to any geometric compositions with straight lines,” said Hayes.

Hayes and Choi are among the estimated 200 Bowdoin students working on campus over the summer engaged in faculty-mentored research.


by Tom Porter

Bowdoin Students Profiled in Japanese Newspaper

Michael Amano '17 (left) and Justin Ehringhaus '16

Michael Amano ’17 (left) and Justin Ehringhaus ’16. Photography: Anna Aridome

Two Bowdoin students have attracted the attention of a Japanese newspaper. The pair is currently in Japan, where they’re conducting research for an exhibition due to open next year at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. Michael Amano ’17 is spending the summer doing a curatorial fellowship in Hiroshima and Kagoshima. He’s collaborating with Justin Ehringhaus ’16, who’s spending a year studying at Hiroshima University on a MEXT fellowship before returning to Bowdoin to graduate next year.

"untitled," (schoolchild's drawing from Hiroshima, Japan), 1953, crayon, pencil, watercolor, tempera on construction paper, by Kazuyuki Etani, Japanese.

“untitled,” (schoolchild’s drawing from Hiroshima, Japan), 1953, crayon, pencil, watercolor, tempera on construction paper, by Mitsuo Suehiro

While there, they are gathering material for an exhibit of post-World War II drawings by Japanese schoolchildren in Hiroshima in the 1950s. The drawings were part of an art exchange program also involving children in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was organized by Japanese artist Chuzo Tamotzu, who was living in Santa Fe at the time and wanted to foster closer links between the two countries.

Amano and Ehringhaus were profiled in an article that appeared in the Minami Shimbun newspaper in Kagoshima on July 22, 2016. According to Associate Professor of Asian Studies Vyjayanthi Selinger, a followup article will likely be published around August 6, the seventy first anniversary of the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Selinger said the Hiroshima Peace Media Center is also doing a series of articles about the Bowdoin students, one of which was published this week, but has not yet been translated.

Translation of Minami Shimbun article

Following Footsteps: American Students Visit Kagoshima

Promoting Peace through Children’s Art Exchange

July 22, 2016

Two American students from Maine, Michael Amano (21) and Justin Ehringhaus (22), came to Kagoshima to follow the footsteps of Chuzo Tamotsu (1887-1975), a Tatsugo native who had immigrated to the United States and was known as “the wandering artist.” They hoped to learn more about the eventful life of this anti-war artist from his biographer, Aiko Izumisawa (68, also a Tatsugo native), in preparation for an exhibition opening next year.

Mr. Amano is a senior at Bowdoin College. A relative of Tamotsu’s wife Louise (who died in 2002) donated the children’s artwork to Bowdoin College. Tamotsu, who is known for works such as “Hiroshima Aftermath,” facilitated the children’s art exchange between post-war Hiroshima and Santa Fe, New Mexico as a way to promote peace.

The Bowdoin museum is planning a special exhibition of the children’s drawings. The students connected with Ms. Izumisawa after being introduced by Hiroo Aridome, who teaches Japanese language at Bowdoin College.

Mr. Amano, a third-generation Japanese-American, has been actively searching for the Hiroshima residents who created the artwork as children. “Members of my family were interned (during World War II). I wanted to learn about Tamotsu not only to learn more about the history between Japan and the U.S., but also to connect with my own roots.” Mr. Ehringhaus, who is currently an exchange student at Hiroshima University said, “I was deeply moved by this person who promoted peace through art.”

Ms. Izumisawa, who had met Louise, said that she hoped the museum exhibition would be a success and that more people would learn about Tamotsu’s life and art.

Writer: Masaki Kuwabata

Translator: Anna Aridome

by Tom Porter

New Media Arts Consortium acquires William Kentridge’s “Tango for Page Turning”

Video still from "Tango for Page Turning", 2012-2013, single channel HD video, by William Kentridge.

Video still from “Tango for Page Turning”, 2012-2013, single channel HD video, by William Kentridge.

Collecting of new media such as film, video, and digital art presents unique challenges for museums. In a commitment to making new media art available for exhibition and study, museums at six Northeast colleges and universities, including Bowdoin College, Colby College, Middlebury College, Mount Holyoke College, Brandeis University, and Skidmore College, formed the New Media Arts Consortium to jointly acquire and share ownership of works that they might not be able to acquire individually.

Video still from "Tango for Page Turning", 2012-2013, single channel HD video, by William Kentridge.

Video still from “Tango for Page Turning”, 2012-2013, single channel HD video, by William Kentridge.

The first joint acquisition, Tango for Page Turning (2012-13), is a short animated film by South African artist William Kentridge, born 1955. Showcasing the artist’s signature practice of animation through drawing, erasure, and stop-motion, Tango for Page Turning was created in conjunction with Kentridge’s theater production, Refuse the Hour (2013). In the video, two animated figures—one modeled after Kentridge and the other after dancer Dada Masilo, who choreographed and performed in Refuse the Hour— dance over the turning pages of a nineteenth-century chemistry book. Set to a soundtrack of a cut-up French song based on the poetry of Théophile Gauthier, the work is a testament to Kentridge’s inquiries into science, philosophy, literature, and performance. Just as its acquisition is a collaborative effort, Tango for Page Turning arose out of the creative collaboration between the artist, science historian Peter Galison, and musician Philip Miller.


by Bowdoin College Museum of Art

John Singleton Copley’s Portrait of Elizabeth Bowdoin

"Lady Temple (Elizabeth Bowdoin)," 1767, pastel, by John Singleton Copley. Private collection.

“Lady Temple (Elizabeth Bowdoin),” 1767, pastel, by John Singleton Copley. Private collection.

The Museum is currently exhibiting a rarely-seen pastel portrait by John Singleton Copley, arguably the greatest portrait painter of colonial America. For the Bowdoin community, this opportunity is even more special, since the portrait depicts Elizabeth Bowdoin, James Bowdoin’s older sister. This portrait is installed alongside three other portraits of Elizabeth Bowdoin in the Museum’s collection. These works showcase some of the most distinguished American painters of the colonial and early federal period, and present a remarkable overview of Elizabeth’s life.

As a child, Elizabeth Bowdoin (1750–1809) sat with her brother James Bowdoin III for Joseph Blackburn, whose enchanting double portrait has been a favorite of Museum visitors since it was given in 1836. On the occasion of her marriage, she again posed for a portrait, this time for the talented John Copley. His portrait remained in family hands until the mid-twentieth century and is coming to Bowdoin as a loan from a New York gallery. The miniature painter Edward Malbone captured Elizabeth’s and her brother’s likenesses in watercolor in 1804. And the eminent portrait artist Gilbert Stuart again recorded her face in 1806. Elizabeth was keenly aware of portraiture as a means to strengthen family ties and establish a legacy that could be passed down to future generations.

Elizabeth Bowdoin experienced this country’s founding and the development of relations between Britain and the United States from a unique point of view. Elizabeth, a Bostonian, married John Temple (1731-1798) in 1767 at the age of seventeen. Temple, who was twice Elizabeth’s age, was also born in Massachusetts but was raised in England, where he remained until the age of thirty-one. They lived in London from 1771-1785; thus, the United States was founded while Elizabeth was overseas. She remained a British citizen, even when the Temples returned to the United States when John was appointed Britain’s consul general to the United States in 1785. Given her position in a political family, Elizabeth witnessed the establishment of the United States’ domestic and international affairs from an insider’s perspective.

Copley portrays Elizabeth as an elegant woman, fashionably dressed with a masterfully drawn fur-lined cloak. This pastel is one of more than fifty that Copley drew in America between 1758 and 1775 as he worked to establish his artistic career. Though the stylistic evolution of his pastel portraits parallels that of his oil portraits, Copley believed that his pastel works best represented his artistic achievements. So popular were Copley’s pastels that the artist sold them for the same rate as his oil paintings. His pastel portraits were focused, dynamic works distinguished by great hand control and judicious line placement. They appear fresh, intimate, and unusually direct relative to portraits in the more traditional oil medium.

Given its historical context this pastel exemplifies Copley’s sophistication and confidence and relates to a moment of great significance in the history of the United States.



by Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Welcome to the 2016 Summer Education Assistants and Curatorial Fellows at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art

left to right: Hailey Beaman '18; Virginia Crow '18; Michael Amano ’17; Estefanía "Steff" Chávez-Flores '17; Catherine "Ellis" Price '18; and William Schweller '17. (Aleksia Silverman '19 is not pictured)

left to right: Hailey Beaman ’18; Virginia Crow ’18; Michael Amano ’17; Estefanía “Steff” Chávez-Flores ’17; Catherine “Ellis” Price ’18; and William Schweller ’17. (Aleksia Silverman ’19 is not pictured)

The Museum is thrilled to welcome three Education Assistants, three Curatorial Fellows, and a Digitization Assistant this summer. They will be essential contributors to the Museum’s educational outreach and its ongoing digitization efforts. Several will also be conducting research in preparation for student-curated exhibitions that will open next fall.

The three Education Assistants are Hailey Beaman ’18, William Schweller ’17, and Estefanía (Steff) Chávez-Flores ’17. Hailey will be creating educational resources and programming for visitors throughout the summer, as well as working on digital and social media projects related to This Is a Portrait If I Say So. Hailey is an Art History and English double major.

Will is an Art History major and an Education Studies minor. Like Hailey, he will be leading tours and creating educational resources for various exhibitions this summer. Additionally, Will will assist curator Joachim Homann in researching works for an exhibition of the Museum’s drawing collection in 2017. This internship is made possible through the generosity of  the Esta and Hilton Kramer Fund.

Steff received a four-week Museum of Art Curatorial Fellowship during the month of June and will work as an Education Assistant at the Museum once her fellowship concludes. Steff’s fellowship will consist of self-directed research on a collection of vernacular photographs that will be featured in an exhibition that she will curate with co-director Frank Goodyear. Steff is currently working towards a double major in Art History and Government & Legal Studies.

Ellis Price ’18 is the Digitization Assistant at the Museum this summer. In this role Ellis will work with the registrar’s office to update the Museum’s database and online collections page and support exhibition installations. From Freeport, Maine, Ellis is an Art History major and Visual Arts minor. This internship is made possible through the generosity of an anonymous donor.

Aleksia Silverman ’19 is a rising sophomore. This summer, Aleksia will be developing a program that attaches a tiered system of key words to objects and images in the Museum’s database to improve the online “searchability” of works in the collection. Aleksia will be working with members of the Museum staff and Bowdoin’s Information and Techonology Department to create this program. This internship is made possible through the generosity of John A. Gibbons Jr. ’64 and Lile R. Gibbons.

Michael Amano ’17 received a five-week Curatorial Fellowship for his project titled “Understanding Psychological Trauma through a Lens of Art Therapy in Hiroshima, Japan,” and Virginia Crow ’18 received a ten-week Curatorial Fellowship for her project titled “Hearing the Story First Hand.” Michael and Ginny’s fellowships are focused on an artistic exchange after WWII between children in Santa Fe, New Mexico and Hiroshima, Japan and the group of drawings that resulted from this communication. Michael and Ginny’s research will be incorporated into a student-curated exhibition of these children’s drawings next spring. Michael, who is currently working towards a Neuroscience and Asian Studies double major, will spend five weeks in Japan conducting interviews with some of the surviving artists. Ginny’s research will focus on the layers of storytelling in this artistic and cultural exchange. Ginny is an Asian Studies and Visual Arts double major. These internships are made possible through the generosity of Dr. Marc B. Garnick ’68 and Barbara Kates-Garnick.

The Museum is delighted to welcome these seven outstanding students this summer. We look forward to the many contributions and perspectives each student will bring as their projects progress during the coming weeks.

by Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Bowdoin International Music Festival at the Museum of Art

Concert in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

Concert in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

Talented young musicians from around the world come to Brunswick every summer to take part in the Bowdoin International Music Festival. This gathering provides these musicians with a unique opportunity to learn from world-class artists and hone their individual skills. Each year the Brunswick community eagerly awaits their concerts.

We are proud to partner with the Music Festival for the second year in a row, presenting a pair of concerts on June 30th and July 21st at the Museum.

The first concert on June 30th at 11:00 a.m. will relate to the Music Festival’s theme of “Re-invention,” and will complement the Museum’s current exhibition R. Luke DuBois—Now, whose work mines and transforms data and video into art.

The second concert on July 21st at 11:00 a.m. engages the theme of “Identity,” and relates to the Museum’s recently opened exhibition, This Is a Portrait If I Say So: Identity in American Art, 1912 to Today. This exhibition explores non-mimetic portraits in American art and poses important questions about likeness and personal identity.

In addition to these concerts, the Museum will also collaborate with the Music Festival on a special program for families on July 2nd at 10:00 a.m.  Led by Phillip and David Ying, this event will allow young art and music enthusiasts to engage with talented musicians and explore the intersection of music and visual art.

We hope you will take advantage of the Bowdoin International Music Festival offerings this summer. If you would like to attend one of the concerts held at the Museum, please call 207-725-3276 to reserve your free tickets. Please note that space is limited.

by Bowdoin College Museum of Art

First Exhibition to Examine Symbolic and Conceptual Portraiture in American Art Opens June 25 at Bowdoin College Museum of Art


"This Is a Portrait of Iris Clert If I Say So," 1961, Telegram, by Robert Rauschenberg, 1925–2008, Collection Ahrenberg, Vevey, Switzerland. Art © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, New York

“This Is a Portrait of Iris Clert If I Say So,” 1961, Telegram, by Robert Rauschenberg, 1925–2008, Collection Ahrenberg, Vevey, Switzerland. Art © Robert Rauschenberg Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, New York

Exhibition investigates evolving concepts of identity through works from early 20th century through today by artists such as Marsden Hartley, Charles Demuth, Robert Rauschenberg, Yoko Ono, Glenn Ligon, Roni Horn, and more.

The Bowdoin College Museum of Art (BCMA) will present the first-ever exhibition to examine the emergence and evolution of symbolic, abstract, and conceptual portraiture in modern and contemporary American art. Titled This Is a Portrait If I Say So: Identity in American Art, 1912 to Today, the exhibition takes its name from Robert Rauschenberg´s renowned 1961 portrait of Iris Clerta telegram that simply states, “This is a portrait of Iris Clert if I say so.” On view June 25-October 16, 2016, the show includes more than 60 non-figurative portraits that pose provocative questions about what a likeness is; how a person’s individuality might be expressed effectively by another; how much a portrait can be influenced by the artist’s, as opposed to the subject’s, personality; and the very conceptualization of personal identity.

“We’re delighted to present this dynamic exploration of portraiture, featuring many of the giants of modern and contemporary American art, which is premised not on physical likeness, but rather on the use symbolic and conceptual equivalents to represent specific individuals,” said Anne Collins Goodyear, co-director of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. “The ground-breaking nature of portraiture during the past century has not always been recognized, yet the boundaries of identity have shifted significantly during this period. With this show, we’re examining the ways in which portraiture has expanded and evolved to reflect these transformations.”

"Yvonne Rainer," 1971, exercise bike, mirror, roses, sweatshirt, horn, by Eleanor Antin. Collection of the artist, San Diego, California. Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York, New York.

“Yvonne Rainer,” 1971, exercise bike, mirror, roses, sweatshirt, horn, by Eleanor Antin. Collection of the artist, San Diego, California. Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York, New York.

Covering more than a century of artistic development in the U.S., the exhibition features a broad range of media, including collages, drawings, new media works, paintings, photographs, prints, sculptures, and text-based conceptual portraiture, loosely divided into three chronological sections:

  • The first focuses on works from the 1910s and 1920s, assembled by Jonathan Frederick Walz, Director of Curatorial Affairs & Curator of American Art, The Columbus Museum, Columbus, Georgia . This section highlights artists such as Charles Demuth, Marcel Duchamp, Marsden Hartley, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, Francis Picabia, Man Ray, Gertrude Stein, and their contemporaries.
  • The second is dedicated to works from the early 1960s to 1970, selected by independent curator Kathleen Merrill Campagnolo, and featuring works by artists such as Eleanor Antin, Mel Bochner, Walter De Maria, Robert Morris, Yoko Ono, and Robert Rauschenberg among others.
  • The final section centers on works from the early 1990s through today, curated by Anne Collins Goodyear. This concluding section includes works by artists such as Janine Antoni, Mel Bochner, Roni Horn, Byron Kim, Glenn Ligon, Hasan Elahi, L.J. Roberts, and more.

By focusing on specific periods, the curators are able to delve into the political and social realities that shaped American identity across these decades, and to unearth the distinct relationships, imagery, and themes that characterized the work of many major artists engaged with creating new modes of portrayal. The exhibition’s chronological installation reveals intriguing parallels between these three time periods, revealing dynamic through-threads within the artistic depiction of identity from 1912 to the present, such as the turn to language, symbolic attributes, and the metaphorical significance of color and form.

Some of the earliest examples of conceptual portraiture in the show reflect Americans’ awareness of the political turmoil in Europe during WWI, and the fluidity between artistic and intellectual circles on both sides of the Atlantic. Exhibition highlights from this period include One Portrait of One Woman, a 1916 portrait of Paris-based American writer Gertrude Stein by Maine-born artist Marsden Hartley, who lived in Europe from 1912-1916. Replete with mystical symbols, the painting shows a blue teacup atop a checked tabletop, with the word “MOI” written boldly beneath, addressing the respective identities and complex friendship of the artist and sitter. Another American with strong ties to Parisian intellectual circles who features prominently in the exhibition is Charles Demuth. Demuth and Hartley knew each other well, as evidenced by another highlight from this section, Study for Poster Portrait of Marsden Hartley (c. 1923–24). The watercolor and graphite composition, which depicts a windowsill in front of a bright, snow-covered landscape, uses objects Demuth associated with his friend to capture Hartley’s persona.

“In the early twentieth century the general public often linked portraiture to flattering transcription and middle-class values; the genre provided strict, longstanding conventions that some modernist artists chose to bend or break,” said Walz. “Political and cultural shifts, including the development of an avant-garde and the breakdown of the traditional organization of sexuality, gave rise to themes that found continual expression in unconventional portraits throughout the century. For example, Gertrude Stein’s 1909 prose poem portraits presage Mel Bochner’s thesaurus-based likenesses of the 1960s and Charles Demuth’s poster portraits resonate with L. J. Roberts’s recent embroidery Portrait of Deb from 1988–199?.”

 "Emmett at Twelve Months #3,: 1994, egg tempera on panel, by Byron Kim, born 1961. Collection of the Artist. © The Artist / Image Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York and Shanghai.

“Emmett at Twelve Months #3,: 1994, egg tempera on panel, by Byron Kim, born 1961. Collection of the Artist. © The Artist / Image Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York and Shanghai.

By the 1960s, the New York art scene was embracing Neo Dada, Fluxus, Pop, Minimal, and Conceptual art as alternatives to Abstract Expressionism. The eruption of new modes of expression coincided with a surge in the production of unconventional portraits. “While portraiture could not be considered a dominant genre during this decade which is often characterized by artworks that attempt to eliminate subjectivity and embrace systematic strategies for art-making, an undercurrent of interest in issues of identity can be seen in the work of a number of prominent artists of the period,” commented Campagnolo. “For the most part, the radical portraits of the 1960s feature subjects who were at the forefront of innovation in their chosen fields be it art, dance, music, or writing and offer surprising insights regarding the artist, subject, and historical moment.”

In addition to the exhibition’s namesake, highlights in the show from this period include Rauschenberg’s 1964 Self-Portrait consisting of his thumbprint in ink and graphite on paper, created for a profile of the artist in The New Yorker. Several of Robert Morris’ conceptual portraits are featured, including a cabinet-like sculpture containing labeled bottles of bodily fluids from 1963, simply titled Portrait. Also present is Yoko Ono’s Portrait of Mary, a text-based call to action from her ground-breaking book Grapefruit, inviting viewers to examine and expand their assumptions about how identity is represented.

Exhibition highlights from the 1990s through today reflect artistic responses to developments like the emergence of the AIDS crisis, the decoding of the human genome, and the violent destruction of events on September 11th, which profoundly affected the expectations, demands, and the even the politics of the self and its representation. Glenn Ligon’s Runaway series from 1993 is a conceptual self-portrait consisting of contemporary descriptions of the artist juxtaposed with images garnered from advertisements of runaway slaves. Ligon turned to friends to provide the captions for this 10-work series, which vary so widely the notion of unified identity is called into question. Artist Byron Kim contributed one of the captions, underscoring the evolution of non-figurative portraiture within influential artistic circles. Kim’s work is also featured in This Is a Portrait If I Say So, and he will create a site-specific work for the exhibition. Roni Horn’s Asphere (1986/1990) represents another highlight from this section. A non-symmetrical sculptural form that resists easy categorization, the work metaphorically represents the artist, who identifies with its emphatically non-conventional nature.

“From the early 20th century up to the present day we see the adoption of abstraction as a strategy for portrayal that resists the cooption of likeness for political or social purposes,” said Goodyear. “We can trace this theme throughout the exhibition—a testimony to the power of the use of non-traditional symbolic and conceptual portraiture as a means to reclaim the representation of self and other from inherited formulas that may threaten to suppress rather than express what it means to a unique individual.”

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue published by Yale University Press. Featuring essays from Campagnolo, Goodyear, and Walz that examine their respective time periods in-depth, the catalog will also include a contribution from Dr. Dorinda Evans, professor emerita at Emory University, discussing the evolution of non-figurative portraiture in American art in the 19th century up until The Armory Show.

Programming related to the exhibition will include lectures by leading artists and scholars. Students and volunteer docents will lead gallery tours. In addition, the BCMA will organize film screenings, musical performances, and family day events.

by Bowdoin College Museum of Art