2013 Winner: The Dichotomy of Visual Beauty: Portraiture of the Ideal and Anti-Ideal

Project Information
The Dichotomy of Visual Beauty: Portraiture of the Ideal and Anti-Ideal
HAVC 191P Image of Time
Throughout the history of portraiture within Western art an ideal has been shaped and passed on from the paint brush to the camera. This can be seen through reoccurring dignified poses, admirable adornments, and lighting which flatters. Yet as technology shifted from painting to photography artists gained the ability to easily capture any moment, whether desired for or not. In contemporary Swedish photographer Julia Peirone’s “More than Violet” series the artist employs nontraditional action shots within the traditional studio setting. My essay utilizes the writings of Roland Barthes and Henri Bergson, among others, to analyze Peirone’s portraiture within Western culture. In my paper I argue that the interstitial moments are where a person’s uniqueness can be seen in comparison to the generalized representations of beauty so often presented in portraits. I analyze the history of the ideal within portraiture and how photography, with each moment so easily captured as opposed to painting, opens up the possibility to create an anti-ideal. This anti-ideal counters commonly held notions of beauty, and challenges viewer’s perceptions in an attempt to alter societal expectations.
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  • Tiffany Seagrave (Porter)