Portrayal and the Search for Identity (London: Reaktion Books, 2013).

Pointon, Marcia Portrayal and the Search for Identity (London: Reaktion Books, 2013). UNSPECIFIED.


Pointon benefited while researching and writing this book from a Leverhulme Research Fellowship at the National Portrait Gallery, London in 2008. Portrayal was published with the support of the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (author’s grant of £2,000 for illustration costs; publisher’s grant of £2,000). It was launched with an invited public lecture at the National Portrait Gallery (10 January 2013) and at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra (23 March 2013) coinciding with a conference there focusing on ‘Portrayal and Identity’. Pointon gave two presentations at this conference, organized by the Australian National University where she was visiting professor. Portrayal was selected by Apollo Magazine for its book prize (25 January 2013) and was chosen as one of the ‘top five art books’ by the Art Fund (6 February 2013). With this book, Pointon advances further the significant approach to portraiture as a social practice inflecting complex ideas about the individual that she pioneered in Hanging the Head: Portraiture and Social Formation (1993). Comprising five detailed case studies, Pointon cuts across the conventional boundaries that circumscribe the art of portraiture to address a series of problematics (such as race, age, sexuality, physical condition, biography), thereby shifting the debate away from issues of likeness to areas of wider significance in relation to historical studies.

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