Feature Articles
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October Issue 2003

Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, SC, Offers Exhibition of Portraits

Face Lift: Fresh Encounters with Portraiture at the Gibbes Museum of Art, in Charleston, SC, offers visitors the opportunity to come face to face with the soul of the South through portraits past and present. This exhibition, on view through Dec. 21, 2003, of approximately 50 works is a must see for anyone who thinks portraiture met its demise with the advent of photography.

Through Face Lift, the Gibbes Museum of Art offers an original and slightly irreverent perspective on the genre of portraiture. Drawn from the museum's notable permanent collection as well as private collections and artists in the Charleston community, Face Lift departs radically from the traditional chronological approach to portraiture. Presenting juxtapositions of iconography, pose, attire and historic detail, the exhibition provides a unique commentary on individuals, values and lifestyles in South Carolina and particularly the Lowcountry.

Chief Curator of Collections Angela Mack has taken this opportunity to reconsider not only the portrait holdings at the Gibbes, but also within the greater community of Charleston. Eager to participate in the landmark exhibition, both private collectors and artists have responded with great enthusiasm. Loans featured in Face Lift include works by artists Douglas Balentine, John Carroll Doyle, William Halsey, Ben Long and Maurice Prendergast. In addition, contemporary portraits in the Gibbes's permanent collection by such local artists as Mary Whyte and Rhett Thurman, will be on view alongside colonial, federal and antebellum portraits by some of America's most revered painters, including Childe Hassam, Rembrandt Peale, Gilbert Stuart and Benjamin West.

"Face Lift shakes up local perceptions of portraiture and more actively involves our artistic community in a Gibbes exhibition," explains Gibbes's Executive Director Betsy Fleming. "Angela Mack has assembled a visually delicious show that transforms how we consider 'Faces of the South.' More broadly, the personality, integrity, clothing and character of everyone from sports stars to politicians and CEOs are under great scrutiny today. Face Lift brings such global issues to a regional level."

The comparisons made in Face Lift challenge viewers to examine the cultural, political and social changes that have transformed the South over three centuries. Visitors will have the opportunity to scrutinize their own perceptions of portraiture and the changes apparent through history, as well as to contemplate how future generations will perceive them according to records in contemporary portraiture.

As part of the Gibbes Museum of Art's fall 2003 exhibition program presenting a unique look at portraiture in America, Face Lift provides a local and historical context for two traveling exhibitions, Works by Warhol: From the Cochran Collection, on view through Dec. 7, 2003, and The Human Comedy: Portraits by Red Grooms, on view through Dec. 14, 2003.

For more information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call the museum at 843/722-2706 or on the web at (www.gibbesmuseum.org).

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