Exhibition of artists’ self-portraits on view at Jule Collins Smith Museum

Published: March 31, 2016
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"Face to Face: Artists' Self-Portraits from the Collection of Jackye and Curtis Finch Jr." is on view at Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, April 2 through Aug. 7. The exhibition features 70 self-portraits, ranging from traditional to stylistic representations, by modern and contemporary artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Selected from the extensive group of artists' portraits assembled by the Finches, these drawings are part of what curators describe as one of America's great collections of graphic self-portraiture. The exhibition is organized and circulated by the Arkansas Arts Center with guest curator Brad Cushman.

"Some drawings resemble photographs in their exactness of form and high polish," said Dennis Harper, curator of collections and exhibitions at the museum. "Some convey emotional, narrative or psychological content along with a physical likeness. Like humanity itself, it is a very diverse group of subjects."

"Portraiture, self-portraits and the human figure are some of the oldest subjects in art, and yet artists continue to find new ways to show us what is so familiar," said Todd Herman, executive director of the Arkansas Arts Center. Herman said viewers will find recognizable themes, such as confidence, doubt, pain, joy and the surreal, and they will likely relate to those feelings. "Art forces us to ask questions – it's how we answer those questions that tells us a lot about ourselves and our society."

Museum director Marilyn Laufer notes the exhibition's relevance in an age of selfies. "We normally only know artists through their world of illusions, perceptions and expressions," Laufer said. "An artist's self-portrait provides the viewer an opportunity to engage the wizard behind the curtain, as in the land of Oz. The artist self-portrait reflects how these artists see themselves or how they want you to see them."

The exhibition features works by Robert Arneson, Milton Avery, Paul Cadmus, Diane Edison, Nancy Grossman, Alex Katz and George Tooker. The program at Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art has been made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

An illustrated catalogue accompanies the exhibition and is available from the Museum Shop. The museum will screen "Basquait" on Thursday, April 7, at 4 p.m. as a part of the FILM@JCSM series programmed in conjunction with this exhibition. Youth may participate in an Art Club dedicated to this exhibition on Sunday, April 17, at 2 p.m. Other works on view include permanent collection highlights and selections from the Louis Hauss and David Brent Miller Audubon Collection.

The museum is open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, with extended hours Thursday until 8 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 4 p.m. Admission is free courtesy of JCSM Business Partners, but a five-dollar donation is suggested. For more information, visit www.jcsm.auburn.edu or call 334-844-1484.

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