October 2, 2010 - January 2, 2011

Man in top hat sitting in chair

“…we are all the invention of each other, everybody a conjuration conjuring up everyone else.”

– Philip Roth, The Counterlife, 1986

Portraiture is among the most familiar of artistic genres. From the snapshot to the “twitpic,” we live in an age of reproduced portraits, many of which are inventions, filled with curiosities and contradictions. The works on view in Counterlives explore the extent to which we all inhabit a contemporary global village of hybridized personas and unfixed selves. In isolated individuals and suggested communities, the fourteen artists in this extraordinary exhibition conjure and consider strains of doubt, uncertainty, illusion, and narrative in contemporary portraiture. A stunning counterbalance to the almost casual immediacy of Big Shots: Andy Warhol Polaroids, and the historical survey of Enduring Likeness, Counterlives questions how these artists and others invent and reinvent the self and the other.

Counterlives, Big Shots: Andy Warhol Polaroids, and Enduring Likeness are made possible by the William Hayes Ackland Trust, the John and Mary P. Redwine Trust, and the generosity of friends of the Ackland Art Museum.

Image: Pieter Hugo, South African, born 1976; Emeka Onu, Enugu, Nigeria, 2008; digital chromogenic print, 43 5/16 x 43 5/16 in. (110 x 110 cm); Ackland Fund, 2011.4