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Original Essays | September 4, 2014

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Face Value: Portraiture in the Age of Abstraction


Face Value: Portraiture in the Age of Abstraction Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Reports of its death were exaggerated but persistent in the art world; in mid-twentieth century America, everyone seemed to agree that portraiture was finished as a progressive art form.

A groundbreaking reassessment of the reinvention of portraiture in America between 1945 and 1975—the period when the abstract expressionists reached international prominence—this new volume presents fifty-five innovative portrait paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures. It features works by Joan Brown, Alice Neel, Elaine de Kooning, Larry Rivers, Marisol Escobar, Alex Katz, Romare Bearden, Fairfield Porter, Jamie Wyeth, and Andy Warhol, amongst others.

Features a poem by leading New York School poet John Ashbery specially commissioned for this book.


Celebrates and reassesses the reinvention of portraiture in post-World War 2 American art.

About the Author

Brandon Brame Fortune is Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. She has worked at the National Portrait Gallery since 1987. She was the Portrait Gallery's coordinator for the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition 2006 and 2009. She was a co-curator for the 2008 National Portrait Gallery exhibition, Recognize! Hip Hop and Contemporary Portraiture, and is the leader of the Portrait Gallerys “Portraiture Now” team.

Wendy Wick Reaves, curator of prints and drawings, is Interim Director of the National Portrait Gallery. Reaves established the graphic arts department at the National Portrait Gallery in 1974. The collections she has developed include fine-art prints and drawings, rare books and illustrated journals, posters, caricatures and cartoons. Reaves is the curator of numerous exhibitions for the Portrait Gallery on subjects ranging from the 18th to the 20th century. Her books include “Reflections/Refractions: Self Portraiture in the Twentieth Century” (2009) and “Ballyhoo! Posters as Portraiture” (2008), “Eye Contact: Modern American Portrait Drawings” (2002) and “Celebrity Caricature in America” (1998). Reaves has also served as one of the curators of the ongoing “Portraiture Now” series which celebrate progressive forms of portrayal in contemporary art. She is currently working on an upcoming exhibition titled “Face Value: Portraiture in an Age of Abstraction,” which will examine mid-20th century portraiture.

David C. Ward is an historian at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian institution where he has curated exhibitions on Walt Whitman, Abraham Lincoln, and 2010s award winning “Hide/Seek. Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.” His poetry has been published in PN Review and other venues; his little collection Internal Difference was published by Lintott/Carcanet in 2011.

Product Details

Fortune, Brandon Brame
Ward, David C.
Reaves, Wendy Wick
Ashbery, John
Art - General
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
90 color illustrations
12 x 9 in

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Collections, Catalogs, Exhibitions » Permanent Collections
Arts and Entertainment » Art » General

Face Value: Portraiture in the Age of Abstraction New Hardcover
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Product details 176 pages Giles - English 9781907804427 Reviews:
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Celebrates and reassesses the reinvention of portraiture in post-World War 2 American art.
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