London's National Portrait Gallery opens first show without faces

Date
23 March 2015
Reading Time
1 minute read

For the first time ever a show at the National Portrait Gallery in London contains no human faces. Jack Smith: Abstract Portraits which opened late last week is the first exhibition in the gallery’s 159-year history that includes no figurative portraits as Smith’s work is made up of abstract shapes and colours. Of course there’s nothing new about the idea of a portrait being something other than a traditional head and shoulders painting, but it is noteworthy that one of London’s leading galleries should take such a decisive step.

Paul Poorhouse, the gallery’s curator of 20th Century Portraiture said: “These paintings take the Gallery’s Interventions series one step further, not only presenting an unconventional approach to portraiture but, in this case, raising a provocative question: is a person’s appearance a necessary constituent of portraiture or are there are other ways of evoking a human presence?”

Smith was a part of the so-called Kitchen Sink school of British post-war painters and worked up until his death in 2011. The show runs until 31 August.

Share Article

Further Info

About the Author

Rob Alderson

Rob joined It’s Nice That as Online Editor in July 2011 before becoming Editor-in-Chief and working across all editorial projects including itsnicethat.com, Printed Pages, Here and Nicer Tuesdays. Rob left It’s Nice That in June 2015.

It's Nice That Newsletters

Fancy a bit of It's Nice That in your inbox? Sign up to our newsletters and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the creative world.