Likeness: Portraits of Artists by Other Artists

  • Likeness, installation view, University Art Museum, Long Beach, 2005.

  • Edgar Bryan, Untitled, 2001

  • Likeness, installation view, University Art Museum, Long Beach, 2005.

  • Likeness installation view, McColl Center for Visual Art, 2004.

  • Likeness, installation view, University Art Museum, Long Beach, 2005.

  • Likeness, installation view, University Art Museum, Long Beach, 2005.

Curated by Matthew Higgs

Any portrait is both a document and a subjective record of the relationship between the artist and his or her sitter, blurring distinctions between public and private. Presenting more than fifty visually striking and conceptually diverse works from the past three decades, Likeness investigates the private interactions and social dramas of a loose network of artists who were active in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Berlin. Many of the images evoke the heightened intimacy that is palpable between artists who are close friends, while others pay homage to muses and mentors, or treat the portrait as a memento mori, as in Nan Goldin’s and AA Bronson’s images of fellow artists David Wojnarowicz and Felix Partz. In each of the paintings, photographs, drawings, and other works on view, the sitter’s active contribution to the final image is readily apparent, as is the inherent license granted to experiment outside the realm of conventional portraiture.



Matthew Higgs

Honored for his long-term, passionate commitment to supporting artists throughout their careers, for his prolific curatorial and writing career, and for his insight which he shares through his research, exhibitions, writings, and pioneering work at White Columns.

Born in the U.K., Higgs trained and worked as an artist before also becoming known for his independent publishing and curatorial projects that raised the profile of emerging artists through the 1990s. In 2001 he relocated to the U.S., to San Francisco, where he became curator of the Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts at the California College of the Arts, and later the co-chair of the College’s MFA program. He now lives and works in New York where for the last nine years he has been director of the non-profit art space, White Columns.

For more than 20 years, Higgs has shown consistent ways to supports artists, artist-groups, and curators, through his writing, interviews, curating, and teaching, as well as his reinvention and on-going development of White Columns as a space for people to experiment with the presentation of new ideas and work. Since 1992 he has organized over 250 artists projects and exhibitions, and written for more than 50 publications and art magazines. He is tirelessly making studio visits and proposing projects with new and overlooked artists, including consistently championing a group of developmentally disabled artists from the non-profit organization Creative Growth by writing on their work and including it in many exhibitions.


touring schedule

Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art
Virginia Beach, VA, United States
March 23, 2006 - May 14, 2006

Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Alberta College of Art & Design
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
January 12, 2006 - February 26, 2006

University Art Museum, CSULB
Long Beach, CA, United States
August 30, 2005 - October 30, 2005

The Institute of Contemporary Art
Boston, MA, United States
January 19, 2005 - May 1, 2005

McColl Center for Visual Art
Charlotte, NC, United States
September 3, 2004 - November 6, 2004

CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts
San Francisco, CA, United States
February 27, 2004 - May 8, 2004

NEW YORK, NY 10013
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