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The relationships between the artist, subject, and viewer of portraits

aaxinn's picture

Riva discusses the relationship between the artist and the subject of the portrait in her Ted Talk. She explains how artists tend to be motivated by their commission and therefore depict their subjects as figures of perfection. The subjects of portraits often appears strong, capable, and able bodied and rarely appear sad and weak. Riva describes how the artists tend to leave out the “messiness of life”, instead painting an unrealistic representation of life. Furthermore, Riva discusses how the viewer of the portraits should be able to imagine themselves as the subject of the portrait. This is where portraits of people with disability breaks the mold of conventional portraiture. Riva explains how viewers often find themselves unable to imagine themselves as the subject when the portrait is of a people with disabilities. Why do viewers have an easier time identifying with portraits of polished and perfected subjects than portraits of people with disabilities?