The Easel

Face time: Kelly Grovier on the reinvention of portraiture since 1989

Excerpt from a new book by the American writer Kelly Grovier, on the meaning and value of portraits. “The years since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 have seen as great an upheaval in our comprehension of the human face as any age in history. The challenge for contemporary portraitists has been to … emphasise the complex tissue of tensions—political, sexual, religious—from which contemporary identity is woven.”