Portraits Through Text

While researching for assignment four, I came across works by Micah Lexier. These were works I had seen before but now I was looking at them in a whole new light. I knew I wanted to stick with the theme of unconventional portraits for the last assignment and I didn’t even think of using Lexier’s work as inspiration because I had never thought of him as an artist who did portraits.

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The way Lexier uses text in his work is quite interesting. He is able to create thought provoking portraits through the use of text only. In Now & Then, shown above, he uses text to create a unique self portrait. The black text represents the life he has lived so far while the rest of the white space on the wall represents the life he has yet to live according to the average life expectancy. The size of the text and the boldness makes the message pop and confronts the viewer with a visual representation of how much time Lexier has left to live while also forcing them to reflect on their own life.

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Another text piece by Lexier, Two Equal Texts, is an interesting and unconventional portrait. He wrote a sample of text and asked a friend to create a new piece of text using every letter and punctuation. In this sense, the two text pieces are portraits of one another. The font and boldness is the same as Now & Then in that it is generic enough so that the viewer can focus on the message instead of the aesthetics of the font.

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Lexier isn’t the only artist to approach this style of portrait making, John Baldessari also works a lot with text. In the piece shown above, Painting and Drawing, he creates a painting with no images, only words. Painting and Drawing is a portrait of any and all painting and drawing. Though it doesn’t contain any images, it makes you recall paintings and drawings that you’ve seen in the past. It also makes you question what a painting or a drawing can be.

I think the idea of creating a portrait of something through text is very interesting. This forces the viewer to create an image in their head and provides them with a different viewing experience than a piece with images.

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