Saving Face II
There's a common thread running through all the opinions on portraits that I've been gathering from designers, magazine editors, and stylemakers. Julie Miller, Southern Accents' senior editor, sums it up: a portrait has special appeal when it was commissioned or suggested by someone other than the sitter. (Except in the case of the artist's self-portrait. There are always exceptions.)
When Julie was 16, she and her sister both sat for portraits commissioned by their mother. "Her plan is to one day give us each the portrait of the other. I love this idea. Personally, I'm not interested in having a portrait of myself hanging around. Maybe my sister and I will then give them to our children, swapping back, so my niece's family will end up with her mother's portrait, and my son's will have mine," she says.
Julie adds, "The serious commissioned [grown-up] portrait is not for me. I would have one done of my child -- that's the difference. Of course, if it is a casual and impromptu thing, that can be sort of fun. We have a five-minute sketch of my husband done by an artist on a lark. Love that -- it makes me smile."
Social Primer has no problem embracing the stately portrait. His mother introduced him to the idea at an early age. (Apparently along with charming bow ties.)
This the four-year old SP.
"It was painted by a wonderful old Southern lady, Miss Louise Gaberlavage. She also ran the kindergarten that everyone in my little Alabama hometown attended. She painted many children's portraits over the years -- including my mother's -- but had long retired from painting when my mother approached her to paint me. After much cajoling and abundant charm, my mother convinced Miss Louise to let me sit for her. As for my behavior and patience, I seem to remember that copious amounts of homemade lemonade and sugar cookies kept me in line," he says.
"I am nothing if not a traditionalist, so I love portraits in private houses. I would live for a grand portrait hanging above the fireplace in the library of my country estate, If I had a fireplace, or a library or a country estate. But I also love the idea of grand formal portraits splashed on the wall of a contemporary house. The painting would have to be off-beat, though. Perhaps in the style of the famous Sargent portrait of my favorite historical figure, Lord Ribblesdale."
Social Primer is currently preparing for another "grander" opening of his terrific pop-up shop located in West Hollywood at 644 North Robertson Boulevard. Some of his happy customers include, Charlotte Moss, Nate Berkus, Thom Filicia and Lulu de Kwiatkowski. And writer Michael Cunningham and playwright Christopher Durang order stationery at SP. (His prices are unexpectedly reasonable.) I'll share more on the opening soon. Please stay tuned for more family portrait talk too.
The first three works shown at the top are by Francoise Gilot.
Aurelia and Water Lilies
Image via Gallery M
Self Portrait in Riviera
Image via Gallery M
Aurelia in Blue with Daisy
Ink and color ink wash on paper
Image via Curatorial.org
© Françoise Gilot. Photo, Glenn Holcombe