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Articles on Portraiture

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Winner: Archibald Prize 1972: Clifton Pugh. ‘The Hon EG Whitlam’ 1972. Oil on composition board, 113.5 x 141.5 cm. © Estate of Clifton Pugh

‘I think Archie would be pleased’: 100 years of our most famous portrait prize and my almost 50 years watching it evolve

It’s 100 years since the Art Gallery of NSW first held the Archibald Prize. Though loathed by some critics, it is an annual snapshot of the kind of society we are, and who our heroes might be.
‘Portrait of a Woman of the Hofer Family,’ Swabian artist, c. 1470, and a picture showing a fly on U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence during the Oct. 7 debate at University of Utah in Salt Lake City. (Wikimedia Commons/AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Mike Pence’s fly: From Renaissance portraits to Salvador Dalí, artists used flies to make a point about appearances

Flies have long held symbolic meaning in the history of art. In portraits made in Renaissance Europe, the presence of a fly symbolizes the transience of human life.
A self-portrait of George Platt Lynes from 1952. Gelatin silver print, 7-5/8 × 9 in. From the Collections of the Kinsey Institute, Indiana University. © Estate of George Platt Lynes.

The forgotten legacy of gay photographer George Platt Lynes

Lynes was a highly sought-after commercial and fashion photographer in the 1930s and 1940s. But he had to keep his most important body of work hidden away.
Detail from Tony Albert Self-portrait (ash on me), acrylic on linen. 102 x 102 cm © the artist Photo: Jenni Carter, AGNSW

The Archibald finalists – and why Tony Albert deserves to win

The packers’ favourite has gained prominence and there are few portraits of politicians in this year’s popular art prize. The stand out work is a deceptively innocent re-appropriation of Aboriginal kitsch.
A picture of strength: lifelong activist Bonita Mabo OA in front of her portrait as a young woman, which features in her granddaughter Boneta-Marie Mabo’s first solo exhibition. Josef Ruckli, courtesy of the State Library of Queensland

Black Velvet: redefining and celebrating Indigenous Australian women in art

Boneta-Marie Mabo’s art responds to a colonial past in which Aboriginal women were fetishised as “black velvet”. But it also celebrates strong women, including her activist grandmother Bonita Mabo.
Why is Whistler’s mother one of the most persistently famous images in the world? James McNeill Whistler, Arrangement in grey and black no. 1 (Portrait of the artist's mother) 1871. Image courtesy of the NGV.

Here’s looking at: ‘Whistler’s Mother’

Whistler’s Mother, which arrives in Melbourne on March 25, is one of the most famous portraits in the world. But James Whistler never wanted the sitter’s identity known.
2015 Archibald Prize winner Nigel Milsom - Judo House Part 6 (The White Bird), oil on linen. © Nigel Milsom, photgraph courtesy of AGNSW, Mim Sterling

Nigel Milsom wins the Archibald, our ‘most fun’ festival of faces

Nigel Milsom has won the 2015 Archibald Prize for his portrait of barrister Charles Waterstreet. It’s clear the regime of the Archibald Prize is quickly, and positively, shifting.
Tim Maguire’s portrait of Cate Blanchett is one of the finalists for this year’s Archibald Prize. AGNSW

Populist candy-floss or not, the Archibald Prize soldiers on

The real spectacle of the Archibald Portrait Prize emerges behind the scenes. Each year, the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) loading dock turns into a frenzy of artwork arrivals and departures…

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