About FACE, an exhibition of four centuries of portraits, will open at Hirschl & Adler Galleries on December 19, 2013. The show will run through February 8, 2014. Comprised of fifty works, including paintings, works on paper, sculpture and decorative arts, about FACE celebrates the depiction of the human face in a multitude of forms.
The exhibition, which includes works from the Colonial era to the present, will feature formal portraits of historical luminaries such as Chief Justice John Jay, to more informal and relaxed renderings of ordinary or anonymous faces.
Stylistically, the works in the show range from 18th and 19th-century high-style likenesses of early American notables by Charles Willson Peale and his contemporary Ralph Earl, to profile portraits in pastel of the French bourgeoisie, to American Neo-Classical semblances of virtue, carved in Carrara marble. The 20th century is represented by such artists as George Bellows, Gaston Lachaise, Joseph Stella, and John Koch. About FACE enters the 21st century with a monumental and enigmatic double portrait of a man and a woman in a New York City interior by Stone Roberts.
The exhibition poses several questions: What makes a portrait arresting? Is it the identity of a famous sitter like John Jay, or is it perhaps the fancy attire of a group of children in a bucolic landscape by William Hamilton? How does the medium affect our response to the subject, whether the bravura handling of a fin-de-siècle portrait by Henri Gervex or the cool modernity of Marie Pierce cast in bronze by Gaston Lachaise? How does our encounter with an idealized allegorical figure in marble, such as Chauncy Bradley Ives' Ariadne, compare to our interaction with the many individual portraits in John Koch's masterpiece, The Party? The broad variety of works on view, and their unexpected juxtapositions, are intended to prompt the visitor to his or her own response.