The exhibition 81 Heads draws from the Museum’s extensive permanent collection of 6000+ objects. Intended as a slightly over whelming survey of the artist’s constant interpretation and revision of portraiture, this exhibition explores works by artists as diverse as German Expressionist Max Beckmann to Fluxus master George Maciunas. The exhibition includes a variety of media such as photography, drawing, and printmaking, while concentrating on the unique variations possible within the idiom of identity through the artist’s interpretation of the sitter or one’s self.
Portraits have long been the focus of artists, either as a means of learning to render from real life or as a commentary through expression and attitude. While photography is often identified closely with portraiture, as is evident in Todd Webb’s revealing portrait of the writer Bertolt Brecht, equally compelling is the loving charcoal portrait of Waldo Peirce’s mother. In many instances the medium the artist selects has a direct influence on the emotional and visual outcome of the work; David Hockney’s Self Portrait reveals not only his affinity with Cubism but employs the new technology of 1986 – via a three color office copier – in a humorous send up of color etching.
81 Heads includes works by Berenice Abbott, Bernard Buf fet, Chuck Close, Mimmo Paladino, Rockwell Kent, Henri Matisse, Ben Shahn, Käthe Kollwitz, Alex Katz, Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol. The title in this instance provides the viewer with the number of heads in the exhibit, not necessarily the number of works.