Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Nope - not a clue...


...Michelle Obama? And it's going to hang in the Smithsonian??? You're kidding, right? Look, I've watched every episode of every series of Sky's excellent Portrait Artist of the Year  since it started in 2015 (the fourth series is currently airing). Occasionally, faced with the pressure of producing a portrait of a live sitter from scratch in four hours with cameras stuck up their nose and presenters interrupting them all the time and the public peering over their shoulder, one of the amateur contestants goes to pieces and produces something that doesn't look much like the person they're painting. But I'm pretty sure none of them have produced a painting that looks any less like its subject than this anaemic pile of poo.

To be fair, some of Amy Sherald's other paintings aren't bad (although,  as I don't know what the  sitters look like,  I can't really tell if she's caught their likeness or not). But this one's a disaster. Wouldn't it have been kinder to cancel the contract and hand the gig to someone else? I don't like Michelle Obama, but she's a striking-looking woman, with very distinctive facial features. Where are they? Where's her feistiness. her anger? Why make the dress so prominent that it overwhelms the sitter? Whatever you think of Michelle Obama, she undoubtedly possesses strong personality - why has it gone AWOL?

If you want a laugh, do read this New Yorker article about the portrait, in which the writer, Doreen S Félix, bends herself into pretzel shapes trying to justify it.

Why can't people get this sort of thing right any more?

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