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This article was originally published as:

Collis, A., Rosewell, C., & Morris, R. (2018). Engaging faces: The persistence of traditional portrait painting practices in a “post-digital” age. The International Journal of the Image, 8(4), 91-96. doi:10.18848/2154-8560/CGP/v08i04/91-96.

ISSN: 2154-8560


190101 Art Criticism| 190103 Art Theory| 190104 Visual Cultures| 190502 Fine Arts (incl. Sculpture and Painting)| 220301 Aesthetics

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In the current global climate of contemporary art discourse, the term “post-digital” variously draws attention to the rapidly changing relationship between digital technologies, human beings, and art forms, an attitude that essentially concerns itself more with “being human” than with “being digital.” While the proliferation of digital imagery—particularly depicting the human face—has become commonplace and ubiquitous to the point of becoming somewhat unremarkable, portrait painting and public demand to see the painted portrait thrive vehemently today. Significantly, and perhaps surprisingly, is the fact that the majority of portrait-painting galleries and portrait-painting prizes uphold the traditional notion that the painted portrait be painted from life; that there must be some personal human encounter between artist and sitter either during or throughout the creation of the work. This article explores the significance of the “painting from life” clause as stipulated by specific gallery and competition stakeholders and its viability as an artistic convention in a period of advanced technological opportunities. It will be shown that such a clause may in fact embody important humanising elements that make it an extremely valuable means of representation in a “post-digital” age.


Used by permission: Common Ground and the authors.

© 2018 CommonGround Research Networks, Andrew Collis, Colin Rosewell, Richard Morris.

The article available for download is the non-typeset version of the article. The published typeset version of the article may be accessed from the publisher here.