How can Portraiture elicit Participation?

Anthony Curran

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paper


Despite the portrait's status as a marginalized art form in a world dominated by spectacle, portraiture has much to gain from and much to offer the contemporary art world. This paper discusses the relationship between portraiture and the broader contemporary art world including the aesthetic and ideological foundations of both, and how these characteristics play out through the artworld architecture, with its increasing demand for audience participation.While portraiture is founded on academic traditions of drawing and painting, aiming toward resemblance and recognition, contemporary art draws on a dematerialized, deskilled and conceptual tradition, revealing a gap between the portrait and the more heralded forms found in today's artworld. The legacy of the conceptual and post-medium in contemporary art has blurred disciplinary boundaries, opening up dialogue to experts in diverse fields, while at the same time positioning artistic practice as a servant to those fields. Reflecting on a recent participatory drawing project at National Portrait Gallery, this paper explains how portraiture can engage with the institutional concerns of its discipline now and in the future, while contributing to broader issues in contemporary art and philosophies of self.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2014 Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools (ACUADS) Conference
Subtitle of host publicationThe Future of the Discipline
Place of PublicationAustralia
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-9942868-0-2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016
EventAustralian Council of University Art and Design Schools (ACUADS) Conference 2014 - Victorian College of the Arts and RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 02 Oct 201403 Oct 2014 (Conference website)


ConferenceAustralian Council of University Art and Design Schools (ACUADS) Conference 2014
Abbreviated titleThe Future of the Discipline
OtherACUADS offers participation to the wider art and design sector by co-ordinating a theme-based annual conference (with rotating locations throughout Australia) as part of its professional development responsibility.
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    Curran, A. (2016). How can Portraiture elicit Participation? In Proceedings of the 2014 Australian Council of University Art and Design Schools (ACUADS) Conference: The Future of the Discipline (pp. 1-14). ACUADS.