A portrait is an artistic depiction and representation of a particular person. The art of portrait painting precedes the invention of camera and digital photography. Drawing hand-sketched portrait of the Sovereign, King, Queen, or the ruler was the only way to keep them alive through their depiction in the pages of history. Therefore many princes and the rulers had hired some of the most skilled and talented artists to draw their portrait sketches. The portrait in history was usually drawn to leave a certain kind of impact on the mind of the viewers of the personality and grandeur of the sketched person.
As the time passed, new and more sophisticated techniques of taking pictures were invented. Due to the added facilities of applying filters to the photos, the art has become widespread to the level of general public. This also led a profound effect on the art of portraits. Drawing a portrait of a specific individual is no longer about sketching them. It has become more of a digital art in our times.
What makes portrait painting in our era so worthy and eye-catching than it used to be in the past?
Prior to the rise of digital photography, the painters and artists of portrait gave much consideration and importance to a technique called figuration. The interest of the painters in this had considerably fallen during the middle and afterwards of the 20th century. However, in the 1980s and 1990s, figuration acquired importance once again. This trend led the ages old art of portrait drawing into new directions. Different artists from around the world have introduced new techniques and ideas to the drawing of portraits. For example, some artists use portraits to explore the abstract notions of youth, fame, and beauty while some sophisticated artists employ the same compositional precision and style which was employed by the old masters, thus valorizing the traditionally marginalized subjects. Despite claims to the otherwise, the fact remains that the contemporary portrait art genre has a lot of potential to move further ahead.
There are a number of important contemporary portrait artists worldwide who are responsible for adding creative tastes and sense of fashion to the art of portrait painting in our era. Some of the most important and renowned artists include Nick Alm, Casey Baugh, Lita Cabellut, Yasunari Ikenaga, Patrick E. Kramer, John Larriva, William Oxer, Silvio Porzionto, and several other whose contributions to the art of portrait drawings have left significant impressions.
A New York based artist observed a range of portrait art by a number of reasons. She then went on to classify the work into seven categories in a one-hour presentation. According to Jan Aronson, the classes to which the work of contemporary portrait artists’ work belong are Self-portrait, New Old Masterism, Historical figures a.k.a Pop culture, Painterly Realism, Pop forward, Anomolies, and Psychological portraits. In her lecture, Jan explains the categories and thoroughly examines the work of artists within each class or category.