Lone Star Portraits

A circular oil painting of a White woman with short dark hair, wearing a white blouse and holding a violin on her lap.
May 13, 2014–May 10, 2015
First floor and second floor

For centuries, artists have sought to capture the character or identity of individuals, including themselves, by painting portraits. Texas artists were no different, particularly in the early 20th century, when they began exploring the genre not only as a means of representing people but as a way of uncovering the ideas and associations that portraiture could evoke. What they discovered was that creating portraits of individuals in the arts could reflect Texas’s evolving cultural society, and that self-portraits could act as “calling cards,” allowing artists to put their face with their name as they established themselves in the field of American art. From conservative representations to unconventional ones, these artists strove to relay the likenesses and complex personalities of their sitters and themselves. Yet they were more critical in portraying their own image, often depicting themselves in unflattering and confrontational poses.

This exhibition features a rare pairing of artists’ self-portraits with the works they painted of close friends and relatives. Created by some of the state’s most important artists from Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio, these 12 paintings by six artists convey the dramatic evolution of portraiture within the state during the 20th and 21st centuries.

Installation Photos

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