Making Faces | Fine Arts, March 2019

This collection equips readers with fresh approaches to see beyond the face—for both scholars and general enthusiasts of the art genre; art scholars and artists will benefit from the carefully curated selection of art representing multiple facets of the human face

Beyond the Face: New Perspectives on Portraiture. Giles. 2018. 328p. ed. by Wendy Wick Reaves. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781911282204. $35. FINE ARTS
The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018, providing the opportunity to assess the study of portraiture. Curator emerita of prints, drawings, and media arts Reaves here gathers leading art scholars to discuss how portraiture has experienced significant highs and lows. Sixteen essays analyze and contextualize an art form that is distinct in many ways from other art techniques. Contributions examine a wide range of subjects and topics, ranging from caricature to the contemporary selfie. Portraiture requires concentrated looking, using an array of tools and lenses to understand the nuances and context. Each author provides new perspectives of viewing this form, and this book provides a general introduction to the genre and its “triangulation of artist, subject, and viewer.” The collection equips readers with fresh approaches to see beyond the face.
VERDICT For both scholars and general enthusiasts of the art genre.—Gary Medina, El Camino Coll., Torrance, CA

Mancoff, Debra N. The Face: Our Human Story. Thames & Hudson. 2018. 320p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780500518625. $24.95. FINE ARTS
The human face is small in proportion to the rest of the body but is a prominent aspect of our experience. The main receptors for senses are located around the face, and we often distinguish one person from another by this common human factor, which provides a means for expression that helps create a shared language among communities across the world. Art historian Mancoff (The Garden in Art) explores the human experience through the historical depiction of the face in art, positing seven universal themes that each highlight an aspect of this condition. Chapters begin with a short introduction of the theme and the artworks each contain a brief description. More than 300 color illustrations highlight a variety of mediums curated from the collections of the British Museum, with each artwork selected describing life from birth to death. The objects assembled in this work could be analyzed as a whole to help understand the human story as represented by the face.
VERDICT Art scholars and artists will benefit from the carefully curated selection of art representing multiple facets of the human face.—Gary Medina, El Camino Coll., Torrance, CA

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