I've been studying the work of portrait painters recently to see what elements I could bring to my own work. I happened to come across the work of Sir William Dobell, a celebrated Australian artist who I was totally unfamiliar with. What really caught my attention was the portrait he had done of fellow artist Joshua Smith which he entitled "Portrait of an Artist" and won him the Archibald Prize (regarded the most important portraiture prize in OZ).
Like Otto Dix and George Grosz, Dobell would exaggerate his subjects to the point where it became caricature and it seems that's what caused him a big problem with the Archibald.
Dobell’s Archibald win was contested by two unsuccessful artists who filed a lawsuit against him and the Gallery’s board of Trustees in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. The main witness, J.S MacDonald argued that Dobell’s painting of Joshua Smith did not comply with the Archibald guidelines as it was not a balanced likeness of an actual person, but a caricature (which it clearly was). Although the award was upheld the ordeal left Dobell physically and emotionally scarred.
So once again caricature was considered a lower art form when obviously many of the "Masters" morphed their subjects attempting to capture their essence.
Posted by Vincenzo at 9:14 PM