The Human Image: From Velazquez to Viola

October 13, 2016 - February 18, 2017

Extended Hours:
Saturday, February 11, 11-5
Saturday, February 18, 11-5

Richard L. Feigen & Co. presents The Human Image: From Velázquez to
Viola, on view Thursday, October 13th at 34 East 69th Street. The exhibition will be open with extended hours for the Upper East Side's October Art Week, which runs October 20th-26th. The Human Image: From Velázquez to Viola reveals the ways in which artists throughout history created distinctive modes of portraiture to inspire, entertain, communicate, and challenge us. Most artists over the centuries have engaged in portraiture at one point in their career; for some it was a primary practice, for others a requirement of their studies. Early on, portraiture served as a way for the artist to immortalize, and at times idealize, the sitter. In later works, the sitter may be distorted beyond recognition; the portrait acts as a vehicle for the artist’s own expressive style.

The exhibition begins with two magnificent British portraits facing off: Thomas Lawrence’s Viscount of Cremorne and Joshua Reynolds’ Richard Crofts usher viewers into the exhibition. Beyond these two 18tth Century dandies is a wall of photographic portraits by the gender-switching artists Duchamp, Mapplethorpe and Warhol in their feminine guises. Opposite are photographs by artists whose own image was an integral part of their artistic arsenal: Ray Johnson, Duchamp and Carrie Mae Weems. In Man Ray’s radical Dada self-portrait, the artist is represented by a pair of floating eye-like electric bells and his own handprint. Up the stairs, Baron Gros’s Charlemagne stares at Peter Saul’s Rembrandt Duck – a riff on Rembrandt’s Jan Six – and Chuck Close’s emerging kaleidoscopic self- portrait.

One of the exhibition’s high points is the penetrating gaze of Velázquez’s sitter, who shares a wall with George Condo’s raw take on the 19th Century Decadent, des Esseintes. On the adjacent wall, Cindy Sherman, in 18th century male disguise, refers to earlier portraits - like those on either side of her 1989 work. The intense realism of Bill Viola’s expressive 2007 video also points back to Renaissance and Baroque painting. An important early cubistic Chagall Self-Portrait (1917) shares a wall with the electric 1938 Picasso portrait of his young daughter, Maya, and the extraordinary 1795 folk art portrayal of two children by Connecticut Yankee Jonathan Budington. Works by Manet and Cornell share space with Schiele and Elisabeth Peyton in the second gallery. These juxtapositions highlight what very different forms the illusion of presence can take and show us how portraits both conceal and reveal their subjects and their authors.

The Human Image: From Velazquez to Viola includes works by: Diego Velázquez, Juan de Flandes, Hendrick Goltzius, Hyachinthe Rigaud, Louis Gauffier, Thomas Lawrence, Joshua Reynolds, George Romney, Jonathan Budington and Thomas Eakins, alongside Ary Scheffer, Adolph Menzel, Édouard Manet, Mary Cassatt, Pablo Picasso, Max Beckmann, Marc Chagall, Joseph Cornell, and Jean Dubuffet, leading up to Chuck Close, Ray Johnson, Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, Benny Andrews, George Condo, Carrie Mae Weems, Cindy Sherman, Peter Saul, Elizabeth Peyton, and Bill Viola.

About October Art Week:
Centered around TEFAF’s inaugural New York fair, Richard L. Feigen & Co. and other Upper East Side galleries will host October Art Week from October 20th-26th, which will provide an added attraction to visitors who are coming, or considering a visit, to TEFAF NY. Richard L. Feigen &
Co. invites you to the Old Master gallery walk and a special opening of The Human Image: From Velázquez to Viola on Thursday, October 20th from 5 - 9PM.

View Exhibition