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"The Artist Revealed" - National Portrait Show Puts Best Face Forward



Barbara Morgan
American 1900-1992
Ansel Adams in Morgan’s Studio, 1942
Gelatin silver print
Syracuse University Art Collection

"The Artist Revealed" - National Portrait Show Puts Best Face Forward

“The Artist Revealed,” an exhibition on loan from the Syracuse University Art Collection, brings together media ranging from painting to sculpture that examines artists’ self-portraits as well as their portrayals of other artists, actors, writers and musicians.

An opening reception will launch the show on Feb. 8, from 5 to 7 p.m. in the University Art Gallery at CSU Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). A tour of the exhibit, led by artist and educator Linda Jo Russell from the Otis College of Art and Design, will be held during the evening at 6 p.m. “The Artist Revealed” runs through March 7. 

“We have been fortunate to borrow other exhibits from Syracuse and have a great rapport,” says Kathy Zimmerer, director, University Art Gallery, who presented “Modernist Prints 1900-1955: Selections from the Syracuse University Art Collection” on the CSUDH campus in 2000. “Because the exhibit includes both historic and contemporary images by major artists, it was the perfect fit for our students, faculty, and community audience.”

Works by Milton Avery, Chuck Close, Leonard Baskin, Edward Steichen, Norman Rockwell, and Anders Zorn are featured, as well as portraits of James McNeill Whistler, Thomas Eakins, Charlie Chaplin, C.S. Lewis, and Pablo Casals.

“A great portrait is timeless - witness the eternal power of Leonardo da Vinci’s magnificent image of Mona Lisa,” says Zimmerer. “A great portrait conveys the personality of the sitter through details that are seamlessly knit together, whether it is the skillful modeling of the face, the intensity of the gaze, the accuracy of the pose or the overall impression of vitality and immediacy.”

According to Zimmerer, traditional portraiture, which is expected to be flattering to the sitter, can become more than just a favorable likeness in the hands of a gifted artist.

“An artist with a genius for portraiture captures the spark of life,” she says, “whether it is a businessman or an artist they are portraying, for example, the Dutch painter Frans Hals’ exuberant portraits of wealthy merchants.

“Many artists who are great portraitists were forced to take commissions to make money although they preferred other subject matter,” she notes. “For example, the incredibly incisive portraits by the French painter Jean Dominique Ingres still resonate while his Neo-Classical compositions are now considered vapid.” 

As for self-portraits, Zimmerer notes that, “A self-portrait is an artist’s opportunity to make a statement, a visual diary of their life. With some artists, their own image is among the most intriguing of their oeuvre and gives us a deep window into their soul, such as the passionate works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh and Degas.”

The exhibition and related events are presented by the City of Carson Fine Arts and Historical Commission and the Instructionally Related Activities Committee of the Associated Students, Inc.

Admission is free to all gallery events.  The campus is located at 1000 E. Victoria Street in the city of Carson near the junction of the Harbor, Artesia and San Diego freeways.  Visitor parking permits may be purchased for $3.00 at the yellow dispensing machines at the front of each campus lot.  The University Art Gallery is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday.  For more information, call (310) 243-3334 or go to

- Joanie Harmon-Whetmore

Images above, top to bottom, all courtesy of the Syracuse University Art Collection:

Boris Artzybasheff
American 1899-1965
Paul Robeson, American Actor and Singer, c 1950
Gouache on illustration board

Eduoard Manet
French 1832-1883
Portrait of Berthe Morisot, 1872
Etching on laid paper

Chuck Close
American b. 1940
Alex, 1992
Color woodcut on laid paper
Syracuse University Art Collection




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Last updated Monday, January 16, 2007 p.m., by Joanie Harmon-Whetmore