About Me

My photo
MICHAEL SCHREIER Michael Schreier is a professional artist and photographer who has dedicated his considerable professional career to the celebration of both the public and private hero. Recent work includes Storyteller, Waiting for Words at the Ottawa Art Gallery, curator Emily Falvey, 2009, and the curating of the exhibition Dave Heath, A Heritage of Meaning, 2013 at the Ottawa Art Gallery. Selected works are represented in both public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, the National Archives Photography Collection, the Agnes-Etherington Art Centre, the Canadian Portrait Gallery, Visual Studies Workshop, (Rochester, New York), Light Works Workshop, Syracuse New York, Carleton University Art Gallery, and the University of Ottawa Library Special Collections.

Friday, 25 March 2016

Post #8

The Portrait and a Theatre's Silent Hero

(cursor on photograph for detailed view,
note: unless otherwise indicated all photographs,
by Michael Schreier and drawings by Hilde Schreier,
reproduction, without permission, prohibited.)

Disturbances in Reading, Palimpsest 

(available at Blurb.ca, Michael Schreier, 2014)

Original artwork, collection of the artist, Michael Schreier

                                           Head by Franz Xaver Messerschmid                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 ( Double Page Spread, Disturbances in Reading, Palimpsest )      

 Portrait of an Old Woman                                          Anonymous Street Portrait
                                                        Peter Paul Rubens                                                     Michael Schreier
                                                          circa 1615                                                                    2004

I am most grateful for Max Kozloff 's insight, particularly his critically acclaimed work, The Theatre of the Face, Portrait Photography Since 1900 and his essay Photos within Photographs published in the anthology, The Photographer's Choice, edited by Kelly Wise, circa 1975. 

Let me begin with the mirror image in the introductory layout for it is here that one may understand the significance of absence, the beholder outside of his own frame and moment, the opposite to what was reflected in the discussion concerning Duchamp's Small Glass  in the previous Blog #7. In emphasizing the relationship between, the exterior of circumstance, the constructed theatre, with the intensity of the interior    the reflected unknown might just invite drama through absence. Ruben's Tronie encourages an attention not only upon the magnificence of detail and craftsmanship but also the suggestion of space through focus with a subtle transition to distance, depth of fieldThis nuanced rendering personalizes the portrait. It may be placed into the theatre of the implied history painting, actually allowing a beholder's embrace and formal caress. Her intimacy, strangely enough, is relegated primarily from outside her privilege. I am effectively invited in without any understood social ritual. On the other hand, in Messerchmid's head, I am given drama without plot, isolation of expression without context    a representation within the unknown. 

My thoughts concerning the portrait will focus on two very specific issues: its role or direct engagement with the beholder and the subsequent implied theater/storytelling. 

                                        Artist, Thomas Ruff                        Artist, Hilde Schreier                    Artist, Michael Schreier
                                                1998                                         circa, 1995-98                                        2010 

To begin, all five selected portraits have two critical elements in common: they may be considered as anonymous portraits and they engage the beholder directly.

"I don't believe in the psychologizing portrait photography that my colleagues do, trying to capture the character with a lot of light and shade. That's absolutely suspect to me. I can only show the surface. Whatever goes beyond that is more or less chance."

Why Photography Matters As Art As Never Before 
Michael Fried.  

Storyteller/Waiting for Words

Artist's Book 2008-9
Michael Schreier

It is not so much the "light and shade" of a portrait that guarantees character but the individual's identity founded on privileged experience. All portraits are governed by the directorial mode, the directive offered by the artist to the sitter and then the assumed posture and pose offered to the beholder. I would suggest that there is no such attribute as neutrality. When one is required as Ruff demands, to empty one's mind of all perspective, he/she would experience imposed control and consequently either challenge his instruction or acquiesce. Certainly, it makes me consider that victims of genocide have experienced such an "emptying" either self-directed or imposed.  I believe that a tronie offers an artist two specific elements: the formal rendering and the immediate psychological description to be incorporated within the future history painting. Within the current postmodern theatre Ruff's emptying results in a contemporary metaphor reflecting control and power. I as the beholder feel reluctantly and uncomfortably complicit. All artists define their ethics and none can claim in my opinion a neutral democratic position. I do not believe such altruism exists. It is precisely an artist's responsibility to govern voice; the contemporary street theatre in its anonymity may actually arise from an iconic mythology, as the hero remains silenced. 

Post  #9

Uncertainty and Doubt within the Theatre of the Moment

Albrecht-Durer-Draftsman-Drawing-a-Recumbent-Woman-Woodcut-1525-Graphische-Sammlung-Albertina--1024x352.jpg (1024×352)