unknown artists-2008 (art institute of chicago)
does a painting have a point of view?
in 2008 i decided to give it one.
i found four paintings that were within the Art Institute Collection but not currently on display and translated them onto the faces of four performers. i chose 18th century commissioned portraits painted by 'unknown artists'.
i started painting the performers at northwestern university, we then rode the subway downtown, and i finished the last painting on the steps of the museum.
i was interested in how the performer would feel while wearing the mask and instructed them to have free reign of the museum; walk around and linger in the galleries where they felt they belonged, interact with museum patrons or other paintings, it was their choice. some of the paintings felt very bold while others chose quieter experiences.
while museum-goers snapped photos and asked questions, the museum security became concerned by the presence of moving canvases. i suppose they were more used to telling the people to step away from the paintings. not the other way around.
we are often concerned with which artists are chosen to show at a gallery, but what of the paintings themselves? what do they think?