Artistic research on portrait paintings
2012/13

This study on Old Masters is an artistic research on portrait paintings by famous artists such as Rembrandt, Rubens and Caravaggio.

For decades, art historians have been discussing whether or not the Old Masters have immortalized themselves in the facial features of their portrayed subjects. To investigate the theory, all known and available paintings containing portraits were merged together. Only self-portraits were excluded from the stack.

The algorithmic fusion of images is an experimental approach to examine stereotypical features of the selected input. By repeating similarities of each picture in stack, individual details are getting lost when merged together.

The results are physiognomic studies on the techniques and styles of each individual painter, leaving room for the viewers’ interpretation. Do they find evidence for an art historical thesis in the newly emerged mysterious physiognomies or see the metaphorical soul of the painter?

 

“Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. The sitter is merely the accident, the occasion. It is not he who is revealed by the painter; it is rather the painter who, on the coloured canvas, reveals himself.”

Oscar Wilde in
The Picture of Dorian Gray