Harn explores creation, meaning, importance of portraits
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida will present a new exhibition later this month that explores the creation, meaning and importance of portraits.
Spanning multiple mediums, time periods and places, “Much Ado About Portraits” includes more than 100 works of sculpture, paintings, ceramics, bronzes, photography, prints, drawings and film, dating from before the Common Era to the present day.
Notable modern and contemporary artists featured in the exhibition include: Umberto Boccioni, Diego Rivera, Isamu Noguchi, Maggie Taylor and Jerry Uelsmann as well as former and current UF faculty members Hiram Williams, Kenneth Kerslake and Richard Heipp. The exhibition will be on view from May 28 through Sept. 8.
This exhibition will, for the first time, use examples from each of the museum’s main collecting areas to investigate the question of why we create portraits. Curators in each department submitted works for consideration and lead curator, Cofrin Curator of Asian Art Jason Steuber made the final selections. The Harn Museum’s collections consist of more than 9,000 works of art focusing on African, Asian, contemporary and modern art, and photography. Loans from private collections will also be included.
“Whether formal, religious, historical, imaginative or political, each and every portrait carries meanings intended by the artist, and those assigned to it by viewers,” Steuber said. “It will be fascinating for visitors to explore those meanings and learn about the similarities and differences of portraits from different times and places.”
Steuber continued: “Portraits capture human moments, values and concerns of the society within which they were created. Subtle and direct effects are therefore embedded within each image by both the one producing the portrait as well as the one being portrayed.”
Also included are portraits and self-portraits of and by artists that experiment with the idea of what is considered a portrait, including “Victor Hugo” by Andy Warhol and “Les Bijoux Indiscrets” by René Magritte. The exhibition also touches on technology and the advancement of cameras and cell phones and the instant opportunities to create portraits.
High school portraits
Included in the exhibition is a virtual display of portraits created by public and private high school art students from Florida, invited to submit work through their art teachers. Alachua County, Palm Beach County, Leon County, Pinellas County and Citrus County schools each have students who have been selected to participate.
UF Professor Emeritus Debora Greger and UF student Anna Mebel have been poets-in-residence at the Harn Museum of Art since January. Greger, an award-winning American poet, has been mentoring Mebel under the initiative of incorporating poetry into programs and exhibitions at the museum. Five poems, created by these poets-in-residence, will be on view in the exhibition beside the works that inspired them.
Harn curators will each discuss their area of expertise in connection with the Much Ado About Portraits exhibition.
Sunday, June 2, 3 p.m.
Jason Steuber, Cofrin Curator of Asian Art
Sunday, July 21, 3 p.m.
Carol McCusker, curator of photography
Sunday, July 28, 3 p.m.
Susan Cooksey, curator of African Art
Sunday, August 4, 3 p.m.
Kerry Oliver-Smith, curator of contemporary art and Dulce Román, curator of modern art
Family Day: Picturing Dad
Saturday, June 15, 1 – 4 p.m.
In honor of Father’s Day, families will tour the recently opened exhibition and then make a portrait of their father or an influential person in their life. This Family Day is made possible by the John V. and Patricia M. Carlson Program Endowment, and is free and open to the public. Contributions to support all Harn family programs are accepted with gratitude.
A Midsummer (Museum) Night’s Dream
Thursday, June 13, 6–9 p.m.
Entertainment and fun activities inspired by the work of Shakespeare will be offered on this evening.
Admission to the museum is free. For more information, call 352-392-9826 or visit www.harn.ufl.edu.