Curators Offer Insight into ‘This Is a Portrait If I Say So’ Exhibition

Bowdoin College Museum of Art’s big summer/fall exhibition gathers a collection of portraits from 1912 to today that do not fit the conventional notion of portraiture. Not one of the show’s pieces relies upon a recognizable face—with two eyes, a nose, and a mouth—to convey identity. Instead each one suggests that physical appearance is not adequate to describe one’s self or others.

“This exhibition grew out of a collaboration between Kathleen Campagnolo, Jonathan Walz, and myself,” said Anne Collins Goodyear, co-director of the Bowdoin Museum of Art. “We became very interested in the phenomenon of portrait abstraction, or portraits without faces, as it emerged over the course of the past century.”

The new show, “This Is a Portrait If I Say So: Identity in American Art, 1912 to Today,” focuses on three periods: 1910-1930, the 1960s, and 1990-present day.

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