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Thursday, May 26, 2022

For its newest exhibition, the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art is pulling from all of its artistic assets.

“Much Ado About Portraits,” which opens today, features more than 100 paintings, sculptures, photographs and other works from more than 2,000 years ago — all to show the importance and meaning of portraits.

The exhibition is the first to incorporate works from all five of the museum’s main collecting areas, which include African, Asian, modern and contemporary art and also photography.

The exhibition also includes 14 loans from other private collections and a video collection of works from high school artists in the five different counties in Florida, said the lead curator of the exhibition, Jason Steuber.

To create a comprehensive exhibition of portraits, the museum had to first define “portrait.”

Steuber said he found at least 60 definitions on the idea of portraiture, the art of creating portraits, in an art dictionary.

“We decided we just wanted it to be a portrait of the human being,” he said. “Our portraits deal with the human body, which includes either the full body, a hand, a foot or the full face.”

Notable works in the exhibition include a photograph by pop art pioneer Andy Warhol and a painting by Belgian surrealist René Magritte.

Steuber said portraits are an important part of everyday life, even if people don’t realize it.

“We want people to realize that you have photos on your phone, your computer and your license, and they’re all portraits, but they all have different meanings,” he said. “It’s simple yet complex.”

Richard Heipp, director of UF’s School of Art + Art History, has an airbrush painting featured in the exhibition.

He said the exhibition’s wide scope is fascinating.

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“It certainly has expanded the way I think about portraiture,” he said.

“Much Ado About Portraits” will run through Sept. 8 and include several events in June. Admission is free for all guests.

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