Lecture: Do portraits require posing?
Hear from Cynthia Freeland, University of Houston
In the lead up to this year’s Archibald Prize, Cynthia Freeland, professor of philosophy at the University of Houston in the US, takes a step back to look at the curious nature of portraiture. She argues for the difference between candid snapshots, revelatory images and portraits.
Writes Freeland: ‘In my book Portraits and persons (Oxford, 2010), I claimed that the subject of a portrait must fulfil a requirement that I call “posing”. This requirement seemed essential to me to capture the idea that a portrait involves a kind of collaboration between artist and subject. However, it does raise various problems. It rules out counting various things as portraits that some people think should be included, such as depictions of (i) animals, (ii) infants, (iii) people caught unawares (in candids), and (iv) “beneath-the pose” revelatory images. Also, the question is asked whether posing is required given that we classify some images of long-dead people (like Cleopatra) as “portraits” of them. In this talk I will revisit the posing requirement and try to defend it, especially for cases (iii) and (iv), considering various examples from different media along the way.’
This lecture is presented in conjunction with Artsense and the University of Adelaide and is supported by an ARC Discovery Grant.
Image: Hugh Ramsay Artist in studio 1901-02 (detail), Art Gallery of New South Wales