Trait pour trait: Portrait of the Museum

Trait pour trait: Portrait of the Museum | Construction of Exhibitions

Curator: Aya Lurie
Sep. 16, 2017 - Feb. 3, 2018

The word portrait, common in numerous languages, comes from the Old French portret, a noun use of the past participle of portraire, which means “to paint, depict,” and is derived from the phrase trait pour trait – that is, portraiture line for line, feature for feature. In his Natural History, Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79) tells the story of a Corinthian girl, the daughter of Boutades, who, when her loved one was leaving the country, traced the outline of the shadow of his face cast on the wall by a candle. This story is one of the key myths of the birth of portraiture in general and of painting in particular. The philosopher and art scholar Hubert Damisch points out that “.. . [T]he shadow’s outlining .. . implies .. . the same connection, point by point, trait pour trait, between the contour of the object and that of its cast shadow, at the same time that it imposes strict conditions for it to take place: the object must interpose itself between the source of light and the screen .. .” That is, all works of art involve aspects such as point of view, the inclusion of the object depicted in diverse fields of signification, and the position of the artist and viewer with regard to all of the above. Such complexity informs the current group of exhibitions at the Herzliya Museum of Contemporary Art, seeking to portray the museum itself through shows whose language is comprised of diverse kinds of reproduction and replication.

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