Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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News Release — January 25, 2001

Ransom Center Exhibition Features Famous Faces “Semblance:
A Portrait Sampler” February 1, 2001 - July 31, 2001

Henry Miller (1891-1980), Self-portrait,
1943. Ink wash and chalk on paper.

Creative people portrayed creatively is the overriding theme for the Ransom Center’s new exhibition, “Semblance: A Portrait Sampler,” opening Thursday, February 1, 2001.  This remarkable selection of portraiture of—and by—famed artists and writers, not only presents a fascinating ensemble of cultural figures, but also provides considerable fodder for interpreting the meaning of portraiture and identity in the modern world.

Self-portraits of such literary giants as Tennessee Williams, D. H. Lawrence, Ann Sexton, Henry Miller, and Dylan Thomas, provide viewers with visual clues as to how these writers physically and imaginatively envisioned themselves.  Other compelling literary portraits emerge from curious circumstances, such as a portrait of Sinclair Lewis by his secretary, Barnaby Conrad, painted from sketches made while playing chess, the only known portrait of Lewis created from life.  Moreover, the juxtaposition of multiple portraits of such personalities as James Joyce, Edith Sitwell, and Ernest Hemingway, present various interpretative readings for their public and private personas.

The wide-range of images also illustrate many facets of the history of portraiture, including:

-traditional poses of John Singer Sargent or romanticized visions of Dante Gabriel Rossetti
-interpretive psychological or surrealistic readings of Jean Cocteau and Man Ray
-caricatures by Miguel Covarrubias and Max Beerbohm
-pop images of Andy Warhol and Jim Dine
-modern assemblage of John Ashbery

In grappling with contemporary issues of identity and self-perception, visitors will appreciate John Ashbery’s multimedia work, “Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror” (1984), a book collection of personal poems, prints, and a tape recording, along with original prints by artists Richard Avedon, Elaine de Kooning, Willem de Kooning, Jim Dine, Jane Freilicher, Alex Katz, R.B. Kitaj, and Larry Rivers, all in circular form.

This eclectic collection of portraits is an intriguing look at famous faces by famous and not-so-famous artists.  The diversity of subjects and styles should prove to be a fascinating tour through the world of portraiture and public figures.

Featured Portraits include: John Ashbery, W. H. Auden, Max Beerbohm, Sir John Betjeman, Jean Cocteau, Joseph Conrad, Nancy Cunard, Marcel Duchamp, Ford Madox Ford, Marsden Hartley, Ernest Hemingway, Aldous Huxley, James Joyce, Chiang Kai-shek, Jackie Kennedy, D. H. Lawrence, Frieda Lawrence, T. E. Lawrence, Sinclair Lewis. John Marin, Carson McCullers, Henry Miller, Irish Murdoch, Jackson Pollock, Ezra Pound, George Bernard Shaw, Edith Sitwell, Lytton Strachey, Dylan Thomas, Mark Twain, Denton Welch, Tennessee Williams.

Featured Artists include: John Ashbery, Don Bachardy, Dorothy Brett, Max Beerbohm, Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Jean Cocteau, Sir William Coldstream, Barnaby Conrad, Miguel Covarrubias, e. e. cummings, Zdzislaw Czermanski, Jim Dine, Jacob Epstein, Roger Fry, Henry Fuseli, Desmond Harmsworth, Al Hirschfeld, Augustus John, Eric Kennington, D. H. Lawrence, Tom Lea, Wyndham Lewis, Henry Miller, Man Ray, Larry Rivers, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Singer Sargent, Kurt Schwitters, Anne Sexton, Rufino Tamayo, Pavel Tchelitchew, Dylan Thomas, Feliks Topolski, Andy Warhol, Denton Welch, Tennessee Williams.

Considered one of the world’s finest cultural archives, the Ransom Center houses 30 million literary manuscripts, 1 million rare books, 5 million photographs, and over 100,000 works of art. Highlights include the Gutenberg Bible (c. 1450), the world’s first photograph (c. 1826), important paintings by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and major manuscript collections of James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, D.H. Lawrence, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Tennessee Williams to name but a few. The Center is used extensively for research by scholars from around the world and presents numerous exhibitions and events each year showcasing its collections. Exhibitions and events are free and open to the public.



Quick Facts

    What: Semblance: A Portrait Sampler, an exhibition of famous faces.

    When: February 1, 2001-July 31, 2001.

    Where: The Leeds Gallery, Fourth Floor, Flawn Academic Center, West of the Tower, University of Texas at Austin.

    Hours: Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

    Entrance: The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Media Contact for members of the press

Elizabeth Page
Head of Communications and Marketing

Harry Ransom Center
The University of Texas at Austin
P.O. Box 7219
Austin TX 78713-7219

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