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Painting Identity

August 13–October 17, 2021

Twentieth-century portraits are part of a long tradition in which artists have conveyed moods, emotions, and personalities to preserve people in memory and history. After the popularization of photography, painting was no longer the primary means for recording physical appearances. Artists continued to explore and commemorate likeness but were free to use portraiture as a vehicle for their intent or style in a much more direct way.

This installation explores how fifteen American artists—including Barkley Hendricks, Edith Neff, and Jacob Lawrence—used portraiture to frame their perceptions of people, experiment with techniques, and reflect upon social issues.

Main Building


Jessica T. Smith, The Susan Gray Detweiler Curator of American Art, and Manager, Center for American Art

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