Australian Portraiture: Naturalistic and Imagined

By Amy Elizabeth Jackett.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

There is something magnetic about portraits. Portraits ignite connections with others through art and resonate with a diverse audience. For the purposes of this paper, portraits are defined as works of art that are based on a living or once living individual and consciously made to be viewed by others. Adding to the increasingly diverse ways of thinking about portraiture as a genre, this paper contrasts the different characteristics of two forms of portraiture termed ‘naturalistic’ and ‘imagined’. To establish the unique properties that distinguish imagined portraiture from the more traditional conventions of naturalistic portraiture, it delves into the complexities intrinsic in the portrait genre, concentrating on one particular duality that relates to the perceived function of portraiture–whether portraits are valued in a documentary or an artistic sense. In contrast with naturalistic portraits which privilege mimesis, this paper reveals that imagined portraits privilege a high projection of the artist. To illustrate the differences between these strands of portraiture, this paper draws on the work of two Australian artists: Sidney Nolan and John Lendis.

Keywords: Art, Portraiture, Naturalistic Portraiture, Imagined Portraiture, Imaginary Portraiture, Contemporary Australian Portraiture

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp.67-74. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 995.828KB).

Dr. Amy Elizabeth Jackett

PhD Candidate, Art and Design Theory Department, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Amy Jackett, BA/BFA (Hons), is an artist and writer currently undertaking a PhD at the University of Tasmania, Australia.


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