Santa Clara University de Saisset Museum suggests that there is more to portraiture than meets the eye

. March 29, 2010

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – The de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University kicks off its spring season on Saturday, April 10 with What Makes a Picture a Portrait?, a thought-provoking exhibit that considers the variety of ways in which portraiture is presented.

Portraits are a familiar sight. They are hanging in our homes, buried in the recesses of our wallets, and plastered on our Facebook and Twitter profiles. But, how exactly is portraiture defined?

This is the central question posed by the exhibit, which features more than 50 works drawn from the de Saisset Museum’s permanent collection. In this exhibition conventional notions of portraiture are called into question through the presentation of a variety of images in a diverse range of mediums. Portraiture becomes an enigmatic, ever-changing art form in which topics such as gender, abstraction, fragmentation, and stereotyping come into play. Through the juxtaposition of traditional painted images and compelling, sometimes quirky works on paper, this exhibition ultimately suggests that there is more to portraiture than meets the eye.

Artists featured in this exhibition include Edward Curtis, Arnold G. Mountfort, and museum namesake Ernest de Saisset as well as Bay Area artists Wynn Bullock, Imogen Cunningham, Judy Dater, Henrietta Shore, and Nathan Oliveira.

A free preview reception will be held on Friday, April 9 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. What Makes a Picture a Portrait? opens to the public on Saturday, April 10. The exhibition is on view through Friday, June 4.

On Thursday, May 13 at 6:30 p.m., the de Saisset presents, Beyond 2-D: Portraits in Other Mediums, a thought-provoking program that explores the role of portraiture in performance and cinema. Santa Clara University 2009 alumna Lauren Baines and communication faculty members Jonathan Fung and SunWolf use dance, film, and storytelling to demonstrate how portraiture can move beyond two dimensions.

In conjunction with What Makes a Picture a Portrait? and the ongoing exhibition Just In: Recent Acquisitions to the Permanent Collection the de Saisset Museum will host College Night on April 22 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. College Night is an evening of fun, creative entertainment geared toward students and the broader Santa Clara University community. The night includes a series of programmed activities including hands-on art, docent-led tours of the exhibitions, food, performances, and music. The event is free and open to the public.

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its 8,846 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus masters and law degrees, and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. masters universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

Category: Fine Art

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