Imagined + Fictitious Figurative Art

Imagined + Fictitious Figurative Art
In contrast to abstraction, figure painting is instead a representation of the real world. In modern art, the subject can be without a face or even that of an imaginary person. I will discuss these variations.

In the evolution of Figurative art, the movement is believed to have begun with Giorgione’s "Sleeping Venus" (1510) which would lead to many artists' interpretations of the female form (unclothed).

Figurative art is not synonymous with figure painting, but they have similarities in that they represent the human figure, i.e. a realistic representation of the real world with gender clearly apparent.

Abstraction, on the other hand, explores color and form. Pablo Picasso and Mark Rothko are best known for this non-representational art; however, Picasso was opposed to pure abstraction and Rothko's figures re-emerged in his late work.

In the case of Picasso's abstract art, I was delighted (and surprised) to see an exhibit at the MFA Boston where he began as a proficient student in the academic studies of the human body. One of the many periods in the works of Picasso is his 'classical' period.

Lucian Freud painted in a neo-figurative style, accenting s*xual characteristics and imperfections, painting many self-portraits, in the tradition of Rembrandt.

Continuing in the spirit of British figurative painting; and a friend of Freud's, Francis Bacon painted distorted and agonized faces. His series of 'screaming popes' I find fascinating.

American artist Tom Wesselmann is best known for his "Great American N*de Series" (begun in 1961) in the pop art style. They are paintings and collages of the female figure, not of any person. In fact, the figure does not have a face. Some subjects are reclining, very Odalisque-like!

British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye paints fictitious subjects. We might 'imagine' people, from reality or fiction; and how they might appear and behave in real life. Some children have imaginary friends.

Y-Boakye does not use models and says her portraits are not of a specific person or moment in time. She is known to finish a painting in one day.

Gideon Rubin, an Israeli artist based in London paints faceless portraits based on anonymous photographs he collects from all over the globe. Creative.

You can own "Sleeping Venus" by Giorgione Giclee Canvas Print Stretched and Framed, available here from

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