Renoir, Modigliani, Picasso, and other artists from the Collection

A Century of Portraiture

Mar.14 (Sat), 2009 – Sep.6 (Sun), 2009
Portraiture has been a subject matter of painting and sculpture since ancient times. Figures of authority long sought to project their power through their images on monuments and coins. Tombstone carving encourages us to remember the dead through likenesses of them in life. Moreover, portrait painting has preserved countless representations of royalty and aristocracy throughout history.
The nineteenth century saw a wealth of portrait painting. Most of the portraiture served to express the social status of its middle-and-upper-class models. However, for Impressionist painters like Pierre Auguste Renoir, making portraits of the people around them was a means to demonstrate the contemporaneity of their art. With the advent of photography and its ability to reflect unvarnished reality, portraiture opened to include a greater variety of forms to express the figure and an interest in the emotional state of the portrayed. Amedeo Modigliani and other artists of the Ecole de Paris sought new types of models, and their explorations into human interiority lead to singular painting styles. Later, using portrait painting to experiment with the plasticity of form, the twentieth century master Pablo Picasso created myriad diverse works.
Through paintings from our collection by artists such as Renoir, Modigliani, and Picasso, and works of academic painting and photographic portraiture lent by other Japanese museums, A Century of Portraiture—Renoir, Modigliani, Picasso, and other artists from the Collection explored the ways in which artists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries viewed and represented the people around them.