Striking Resemblance: The Portrait as Muse, November 22, 2008 – February 15, 2009, Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, USA.
Valérie Belin, Andrea Robbins and Max Becher, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Bill Viola
Striking Resemblance: The Portrait as Muse features the photographs of Valérie Belin, Andrea Robbins and Max Becher, and Hiroshi Sugimoto along with video works created by world-renowned artist Bill Viola. On view November 22, 2008 through February 15, 2009, this exhibition shows how these artists work to extend, reinvent and ultimately transform the tradition of portraiture.
This exhibition—Striking Resemblance—and the photo-based artworks by Valérie Belin, Andrea Robbins and Max Becher, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Bill Viola simultaneously embrace the portrait tradition while taking it to task. These artists’ interests and intents are more aligned with a reinvention of the portrait rather than a wholesale transformation. A shift in meaning that nonetheless is obliged to be cognizant of a rich, lengthy legacy.
While the images in Striking Resemblance have all the attributes of the traditional portrait they nonetheless straddle the line between the authentic and the artificial, the real and the acted. It is at that crux—the line between those extremes—that the work in Striking Resemblance resides. To look like or appear like someone/something else is the underlying aspect of the works in Striking Resemblance. Whether acted, transformed or a historical replication the work of Valérie Belin, Andrea Robbins and Max Becher, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Bill Viola each in distinctive ways looks at the human face as a point of departure. The people depicted are varying degrees of a fiction; a fabrication or a stand-in. Not only are these images brokering a masquerade, their success relies on our acute understanding of the distinctions between the real and the make-believe.