American 20th-21st Century Portraits and Figurative Art



This section of the Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) catalogue Topics in American Art is devoted to the topic "American 20th-21st Century Portraits and Figurative Art." Articles and essays specific to this topic published in TFAO's Resource Library are listed at the beginning of the section. Clicking on titles takes readers directly to these articles and essays. The date at the end of each title is the Resource Library publication date.

Following the listing of Resource Library articles and essays is the heading "TFAO references." The count of pages in the TFAO website citing relevant keywords is an indicator of our breadth of coverage for this topic. We recommend that readers search within the TFAO website to find detailed information for any topic. Please see our page How to research topics not listed for more information.

After "TFAO references" are links to valuable online resources found outside our website. Links may be to museums' articles about exhibits, plus much more topical information based on our online searches.

Following online resources is information about offline resources including museums, DVDs, and paper-printed books, journals and articles.

We welcome suggestions for additional content by sending an email to


Articles and essays from Resource Library with most recent listed first:



Eternal Beauty: Egg Tempera Paintings by Fred Wessel; essay by Katherine T. Brown (8/16/16)

Holly Trostle Brigham: Sisters and Goddesses (3/15/16)

Wayne Koestenbaum: Unfamiliar Grammar, Paintings from 2010-2015 (11/13/15)

Helen Farr Sloan, 1911-2005; essay by Heather Campbell Coyle (10/7/15)

Reflections: Artwork by Kevin Kutz (7/8/15)

Don Coen: The Migrant Series (3/3/15)

Monterey Now: Warren Chang, with essays by Charlotte Eyerman and Karen Crews Hendon (1/20/15)

William Beckman: Drawings, 1967-2013 (6/23/14)

Body of Grace: the Art of Kamal Youssef; essay by V. Scott Dimond (6/15/14)



Jacob Collins: Recent Work (10/11/13)

Nelson Shanks: A Brush with Reality (7/11/13)

Infinite Mirror: Images of American Identity (4/18/13)

Westchester Women & War: Portraits (7/14/12)

L.A. RAW: Abject Expressionism in Los Angeles 1945-1980, From Rico Lebrun to Paul McCarthy (2/9/12)

Mavis Smith: Hidden Realities (11/22/11)

Alice Neel: Painted Truths (4/2/10)

Ralph Borge: A Symbolic Realist and His Circle (1/16/10)

Robert January, Caves - Curveballs - Canvas; essay by Philip Eliasoph (11/7/09)

Will Barnet: Works of Seven Decades (5/5/09)



An Innermost Journey: The Art of Shauna Cook Clinger (12/26/08)

The Pursuit of Form; essay by Peter Campion (11/6/08)

David Park's Works on Paper; essay by Lance Esplund (11/6/08)

Ann Gale's Interstitial Portraits; essay by Mark Van Proyen (11/6/08)

Andrew Stevovich: The Truth about Lola; essay by Bartholomew F. Bland (10/10/08)

Realist Paintings by Bryan LeBoeuf; essay by Jay Williams (6/19/08)

The Figure Revealed: Contemporary American Figurative Paintings and Drawings (5/29/08)

D.J. Hall Thirty-Five Year Retrospective (5/28/08)

Portraits of Women: Re-seeing the Collection (4/25/08)

In the Face of Change; essay by Jennifer Bailey Forbes (2/8/08)

Ann Gale (11/6/07)

Portrait, Identity, Culture: Across Time, Space and Meaning (10/22/07)

Signs of Intelligent Life; essay by Claudia Schmuckli (9/17/07)

Lincoln Perry: Paintings; text by Michael Culver (8/4/07)

Personal Jesus: The Religious Works of Keith Haring and Andy Warhol (5/30/07)

Marilyn Monroe: Life as a Legend (3/27/07)

The Artist Revealed: Artist Portraits and Self-Portraits (2/21/07)



Cecily Brown (11/28/06)

Urban Isolation: Figurative Paintings by York Chang and Yu Ji (11/3/06)

James Michaels: Passion for Paint, essay by Todd Behrens (10/20/06)

Alex Katz Paints Ada (10/4/06)

Portraits of Dancer Rudolf Nureyev by Artist James Wyeth Acquired by Brandywine River Museum (10/02/06)

Slow Painting: A Deliberate Renaissance, with essays entitled "Realism: The Path to Beauty" by James F. Cooper, "A New Direction in Art Education - The New Academies, Andy Warhol and a New Aesthetic Movement" by Dr. Gregory Hedberg, and Distinguishing the Essential From the Accidental" by D. Jeffrey Mims (9/28/06)

Factory Work: Warhol, Wyeth and Basquiat (7/31/06)

Posed at Midcentury: Master Drawings by Bay Area Figuratives (7/31/06)

Weird and Wonderful:  Graphics by Leonard Baskin (6/29/06)

Julie Heffernan: Everything That Rises (4/20/06)

Edward Hopper: An Artist in Pursuit of Desire; essay by Matt Backer (3/24/06)

"Black Spirit": Works on Paper by Eldzier Cortor; essay by Matt Backer (3/22/06)

Robert Henri: La Reina Mora; essay by Michael Andrew Marlais (2/20/06)

Gladys Nilsson: Recent Works (2/1/06)

Project Series: Clare E. Rojas / Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University; essay by Katie Geha (1/31/06)

Lee Baxter Davis (1/31/06)



Kiki Smith: A Gathering, 1980-2005 (11/21/05)

Chuck Close: Self-Portraits 1967-2005 (11/21/05)

Bruce Erikson: Unravel (11/21/05)

MOCA Focus: Jennifer Bornstein (11/21/05)

Joyce Treiman: Paintings, Drawings and Prints (10/25/05)

Hawaiian Idyll: The Prints of John Kelly (9/20/05)

The Portraits of Robert Henri: Context and Influences; article by Valerie Ann Leeds (8/2/05)

Chuck Close Prints; essay by Terrie Sultan (6/13/05)

Bert Carpenter: Persistence of Realism; essay by Sam Yates (5/9/05)

Mirror Mirror: Portraits, Profiles, and Portrayals (4/29/05)

Chuck Close: Self-Portraits 1967-2005 (4/20/05)

Susan Ricker Knox (1874 - 1959); essay by Deborah M. Child and Jane D. Kaufmann (4/19/05)

Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration (4/14/05)

Nelson Shanks: Paintings and Drawings; essay by Peter F. Blume (3/30/05)

American Women: A Selection from the National Portrait Gallery (1/28/05)

Gerald L. Brockhurst (1890-1978), A Retrospective from the William P. Brumfield Memorial Collection; essay by Abe M. Tahir Jr. (1/22/05)



Samuel L. Schmucker: The Golden Age of Postcards (12/22/04)

Joseph Stella: Madonnas & Related Work; essay by Irma B. Jaffe (12/14/04)

The Elegant Line: Early Prints by Richard Diebenkorn (10/25/04)

Guy Pène du Bois: The Twenties at Home and Abroad (8/27/04)

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith: Made in America (8/24/04)

The W.P.A. Era: Art Across America (8/17/04)

Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures (8/17/04)

Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures (8/13/04)

Hal Frater: A Retrospective (7/1/04)

Heartland: Paintings by Bo Bartlett, 1978-2002 (6/15/04)

Jack Smith: Taos Portraits (6/11/04)

Eric Bransby: Draftsman and Muralist; essay by William Underwood Eiland (4/28/04)

American Portraiture: The Figurative Works of Wayman Adams (3/18/04)

Fair Dreams: The Art of Gerald Leslie Brockhurst (4/9/04)

Evolving Identities: Figurative Work from the 19th Century to Now (2/4/04)

Contemporary Figurative Painting (2/4/04)

Chuck Close: Prints and Process; essay by June Lambla (2/2/04)

The Italians -- From South Philadelphia to Jersey City (1/29/04)

Chuck Close: Prints and Process (1/29/04)

Alison Van Pelt: The Women (1/12/04)

Drawn to Perfection: Jean and Paul Ulen and the Slade School Legacy in Cleveland; essay by Christopher Bedford and Marianne Berardi (1/7/04)

Chuck Close Prints: Process and Collaboration (1/2/04)


Click here for more articles and essays on this subject published in:




TFAO references:

A 11/29/13 search within TFAO's digital library retrieved:


From other websites:

A Broken Beauty: Figuration, Narrative and the Transcendent in North American Art, from Laguna Art Museum. Accessed August, 2015.

H.C. Porter's Blues @ Home, an exhibit held April 1 - August 2, 2014 at the University of Mississippi Museum, Oxford. Accessed December, 2015.

Focus on the Figure: Southern California Artists (1850-1950) from Accessed August, 2015. sells a great many of the American art books in print. Amazon has a feature that allows people on the Web to read text inside books. To use this feature, search in "books," then enter title of book. When book is selected go to "look inside" and read sample pages of the book selected, which may include color images of the front cover, front flap, table of contents, excerpt such as the introduction chapter, alphabetical index, back flap and back cover. Also, some books have a word search feature, which enables registered individuals to search inside the books and pull up individual pages containing the selected words. See the following book: Bay Area Figurative Art: 1950-1965 by Caroline A. Jones (search inside)

Andy Warhol: My Perfect Body is a 2016-17 exhibit at the Andy Warhol Museum, which says: "Highlighting The Warhol's permanent collection, and including rarely traveled loans, this exhibition broadly examines Warhol's work, from student drawings to late paintings of the 1980s. This exhibition reveals the parallels between Warhol's personal history -- including his struggles with his own physical appearance, such as early signs of balding in 1950s and the gruesome scars following his shooting in 1968 -- and the treatment of the body as a subject in his work." Accessed 11/16 Also see review by Cristina Rouvalis in Fall 2016 Carnegie Magazine. Accessed 11/16. Also 10/27/16 interview of curator Jessica Beck in Art F City. Accessed 11/16.

Anne Labovitz: Composite Portrait, an exhibit held June 4 - August 11, 2013 at the Tweed Museum of Art. Includes online videos. Accessed April, 2015.

"Art, AIDS, and Ethics" by Kate Scannell, MD., Virtual Mentor. April 2006, Volume 8, Number 4: 271-276. Accessed August, 2015.

As It Happened: Works by Sanit Khewhok, an exhibit held July 08, 2010 - October 10, 2010 at the Honolulu Academy of Arts. Accessed January, 2015.

Bearing Witness: Daniel Heyman, an exhibit held January 15 - March 13, 2011 at the Laband Art Gallery at Loyola Marymount University. Includes "portraits of individuals who have endured great personal hardship - former Abu Ghraib detainees, African American fathers who have been in and out of jail, and new immigrants to the United States." Accessed February, 2015

Charles Garabedian: A Retrospective, an exhibit held January 22 - May 1, 2011 at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Includes illustrated press release. Accessed April, 2015.

The Discerning Eye: Scintillating Paintings from Rodney Burlingame, an exhibit held January 26 - May 3, 2014 at the Ashby-Hodge Gallery of American Art on the Fayette campus of Central Methodist University. Search online for an 8-minute gallery tour of the exhibit with narrative by the artist. Accesssed January, 2016.

El Mac: Aerosol Exalted was a 2015-16 exhibit at Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, which says: "El Mac began painting with acrylics and painting graffiti in the mid '90s, when his primary focus became the life-like rendering of human faces and figures. El Mac has since worked consistently toward developing his unique rendering style, which utilizes repeating contour lines reminiscent of ripples, turning patterns and indigenous North American art."

Everett Raymond Kinstler: Pulps to Portraits, an exhibit held June 14 - September 28, 2012 at the Bellarmine Museum of Art. Accessed May, 2015.

Exotic Muses: Dancers by Robert Henri and Nick Cave, an exhibit held January 24 - July 8, 2012 at the Mead Art Museum. Includes audio clips interpreting artworks in the exhibit. Accessed February, 2015

Face to Face: rtists' Self-Portraits from the Collection of Jackye and Curtis Finch, Jr. was a 2015 exhibit at the Baker Museum which says: "Narcissism, experimentation, practice, storytelling, self-promotion, personal quest... There are many reasons that artists have for centuries felt the need to portray themselves. A prominent theme in the history of art, self-portraiture has followed the evolution of self-consciousness and metaphysics." Accessed 1/17

Figure Study: The Fourteenth Street School and the Woman in Public, an exhibit held August 26 - December 23, 2011 at The Fralin Museum of Art, University of Virginia. Texts include exhibit labels. Accessed May, 2014

E. Roscoe Shrader, an exhibit held October 31, 2010-January 23, 2011 at the Laguna Art Museum. Includes online curator's lecture video. Accessed February, 2015.

Everett Raymond Kinstler: Pulps to Portraits, June 14 - September 28, 2012 from Bellarmine Museum of Art Accessed August, 2015.

Fay Jones: Painted Fictions, an exhibit held November 18, 2006 - January 20, 2007 at the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at Willamette University. Includes News Release and Educator Resources. Accessed January, 2015.

Francesco Clemente: Dormiveglia is a 2016-17 exhibit at the NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale, which says: "Each canvas is painted in a washed pastel palette and depicts a statuesque, classically draped goddess-like figure that hovers between land and sea, antiquity and modernity, the sublime and the grotesque." Accessed 11/16

Frank Lobdell Figure Drawings, an exhibit held November 11, 2009 - February 21, 2010 at the Cantor Arts Center, Stanford University. Includes press release. Accessed August, 2015.

God Bless Art: The Portraits of Earle Merchant was an exhibit held April 9, 2016 - May 28, 2016 at the Cape Ann Museum. The museum information includes links to Keith Powers, "Love of Creating Art Shines Through" (Cape Ann Beacon 4/15/16) and Gail McCarthy, "God Bless Art" (Gloucester Daily Times 4/7/16). Merchant said in 1990: "I am, essentially, a self-taught artist. My earlier works leaned towards the primitive, but they became less of that style as I progressed. I like people, especially children. This probably accounts for achieving notable likenesses in finished portraits. I value highly my companionship over the years with so many talented fellow artists. Cape Ann is fortunate to have such high quality artists. God bless art and its Associations." Accessed August, 2016.

Hope Gangloff: Love Letters, an exhibit held January 30 to June 5, 2011 at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art. Accessed August, 2015.

Jenny Dubnau: Head On, an exhibit held January 30 to June 5, 2011 at the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art. Accessed August, 2015.

John Paul Jones, an exhibit held October 31, 2010-January 23, 2011 at the Laguna Art Museum. Includes online panel discussion video. Accessed February, 2015.

Juliette Aristides: Observations, an exhibit held August 10 - September 14, 2013 at the Reading Public Museum. Includes online audio. Accessed April, 2015.

Kehinde Wiley: Memling, an exhibit held July 11, 2014 - October 5, 2014 at the Taft Museum of Art. Includes online video and Portico article. Accessed April, 2015.

Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic was held June 11 - September 5, 2016 at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Information from the press release, plus more, is here. Accessed Sept., 2016

Les Caison III: Looking Up. an exhibit held December 5, 2014 - March 21, 2015 at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University. Includes gallery guide. Accessed December, 2015.

Lee Godie: Self-Portraits was held April 8-July 5, 2016 at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art.. It was organized by The John Michael Kohler Arts Center. The Intuit Web page for the exhibit contains an essay by curator Karen Patterson. Accessed June, 2016.

Likeness of Being: Portraits by Phillip Burke, an exhibit held April 10 - September 13, 2015 at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. Includes essay by Scott Propeack, chief curator, Burchfield Penney Art Center. Accessed February, 2016.

Medea and Her Sisters: Leonard Baskin's Images of Women, an exhibit held June - September 2007 at the Smith College Museum of Art. Accessed April, 2015.

"The National Academy: A Legacy of Fine Arts," by Jennifer Hebblethwaite and "Art and Law: Derivative Works And Copyright · Painting from Another's Photograph;" by Mary Ann Fergus from Portrait Society of America. [Link found to be expired as of 2015 audit. TFAO is saving the citation for use by researchers.]

National Portrait Gallery (US):

Accessed August, 2015.

Picturing Identity: The Allure of Portraiture, an exhibit held November 17, 2012 - February 17, 2013 at the Figge Art Museum. Includes image. Accessed August, 2015.

Red Grooms: What's the Ruckus? an exhibit held June 29 - October 20, 2013 at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center. Includes curator's essay and links to reviews. Accessed August, 2015.

Resemblance: Figure and Portrait Paintings by Runcie Tatnall, an exhibit held March 29 - May 3, 2014 at the Texarkana Regional Arts Center. Accessed December, 2015.

Salvatore Del Deo: Faces & Figures 1969 - 2012, an exhibit held February 6 - March 9, 2014 at the Cape Cod Museum of Art. Accessed August, 2015.

The Singing Bird Room of Robert Lostutter, an exhibit held October 5, 2012 to January 6, 2013 at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The museum's website says: "In the early 1970s, a sojourn in Mexico and his love of nature led Robert Lostutter to seize upon a theme that came to define his mature style. A superb draftsman and watercolorist, he began making portraits of figures adorned with the plumage of tropical birds or the petals and leaves of orchids. Lostutter's mythic creatures are both disturbing and radiantly beautiful, fusions of animal and human, nature and culture." Accessed February, 2015

This Is a Portrait If I Say So: Identity in American Art, 1912 to Today was a 2016 exhibit held at Bowdoin College Museum of Art which says: "Featuring iconic American Artists such as Marsden Hartley, Alfred Stieglitz, Robert Rauschenberg, Yoko Ono, Roni Horn, Glenn Ligon, and others, this timely and groundbreaking exhibition includes more than 60 abstract, symbolic, and conceptual portraits across a wide range of media -- reexamining over a century of portraiture and inspiring new ways to see ourselves and others." The BCMA page includes links to the press release, checklist, images, labels, media articles, multimedia and more. Accessed 10/16.

Tough by Nature: Portraits of Cowgirls and Ranch Women of the American West, an exhibit of the art of Lynda Lanker, a Eugene, Oregon, based artist, held July 01, 2012 to September 09, 2012 at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon. Accessed February, 2015

Toxic Beauty: The Art of Frank Moore, an exhibit held Spetember 6 - December 8, 2012 at the Grey Art Gallery of New York University. Includes two films, press release and checklist. One of the films is a 48-minute Frank Moore illustrated lecture at the Skowhegan School of Painting, 1998. Accessed December 2015.

Trevor Southey: Reconciliation, an exhibit held October 21, 2010 through February 13, 2011 at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts at University of Utah. Includes video. Accessed May, 2015.

Woodmere Art Museum provides online the 42-page catalogue for Just In: Martha Mayer Erlebacher, an exhibit held at the museum January 11 - March 2, 2014. Accessed May, 2015.

The WGBH/Boston Forum Network is an audio and video streaming web site dedicated to curating and serving live and on-demand lectures, including a number of videos on Art and Architecture. Partners include a number of museums, colleges, universities and other cultural organizations. See listings of related videos in this catalogue indexed by partner name. Old South Meeting House partnered with the WGBH Forum Network for Deaf Artist: The World of John Brewster, Jr.,(32 minutes) a lecture by Harlan Lane, psychologist, historian and distinguished professor at Northeastern University, examines this extraordinary American portrait artist and how his memberships within multiple worlds (Puritan, Federalist elite, Deaf and Art) converged to leave an enduring legacy. [September 23, 2004]. Accessed May, 2015.



Celebrity Caricature in America by Wendy Wick Reaves, Yale University Press, 1998. says:",,,Reaves contends that this modern caricature - with its abbreviation, provocation, wit, figural distortion and dissonant colour contrasts - was a type of portraiture that captures the essence of the times and influenced other arts. Celebrity caricature had appeal to an audience hungry for emblems of the emerging urban culture. This book accompanies the first comprehensive exhibition on celebrity caricature, which will open at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, USA in April 1998."


Go to Figurative and Portrait Art: 18-19th Century, 19-20th Century, 20-21st Century

Return to Topics in American Representational Art


TFAO extends appreciation to Rick Delanty for suggestions of content for this page.

TFAO catalogues:

Individual pages in each catalogue are continuously amended as TFAO adds content, corrects errors and reorganizes sections for improved readability. Refreshing or reloading pages enables readers to view the latest updates.

Links to sources of information outside of our web site are provided only as referrals for your further consideration. Please use due diligence in judging the quality of information contained in these and all other web sites. Information from linked sources may be inaccurate or out of date. TFAO neither recommends or endorses these referenced organizations. Although TFAO includes links to other web sites, it takes no responsibility for the content or information contained on those other sites, nor exerts any editorial or other control over them. For more information on evaluating web pages see TFAO's General Resources section in Online Resources for Collectors and Students of Art History.

Search Resource Library

Copyright 2016 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.