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Wednesday, 05 August 2015 10:32

A New Exhibition at the Met Explores the Importance of Facial Expressions in Art

Charles Le Brun's 'The Expressions.' Charles Le Brun's 'The Expressions.' Wikimedia Commons

The representation of human emotion through facial expression has interested Western artists since antiquity. Drawn from The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection of drawings, prints, and photographs, the diverse works in About Face: Human Expression on Paper—portraits, caricatures, representations of theater and war—reveal how expression underpinned narrative and provided a window onto the character and motivations of the subjects, the artists, and even their audiences. The exhibition is on view from July 27 through December 13, 2015.

Using Charles Le Brun’s illustrations for Expressions of the Passions and Guillaume-Benjamin-Armand Duchenne de Boulogne and Adrien Tournachon’s photographic series as touchstones, the approximately 60 works dating from the 16th through the 19th century show how artists such as Hans Hoffmann, Francisco Goya, Jean-Baptiste Greuze, and Thomas Rowlandson explored the animated human face.

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