Past Events

New Public Portraits - Icons and Idols at the National Portrait Gallery

Lecture – Sandy Nairne

  • 25 November 2015
  • 6:00 – 8:00 pm
  • Lecture Room, Paul Mellon Centre

Looking back over twelve years of commissioning new portraits, Sandy Nairne, former director of the National Portrait Gallery will discuss the key issues involved in this complex process. Questions will include the hierarchy of different media, the levels of trust required between sitter and artist, and the relationship between public and self image. Citing recent works as diverse as Sam-Taylor Johnson's video portrait of David Beckham, Judi Dench painted by Alessandro Raho, Zaha Hadid portrayed in digital form by Michael Craig-Martin, and Tony Blair painted by Alastair Adams, Sandy will examine what makes a successful public portrait.

Questions and Issues in the Commissioning of Portraits:

  1. What is public and what is private? – the image and the person
  2. The relationship between self-image and public expectation
  3. The commissioning process: selection of sitters and artists
  4. The critical relations between artist and sitter – who is in charge?
  5. Is there a hierarchy of media? – painting, photography and digital portraits

All are welcome! However, places are limited, so if you would like to attend please contact our Events Manager, Ella Fleming on events@paul-mellon-centre.ac.uk

The seminar will be followed by a drinks reception.

About the speaker

  • Head shot of man in suit with tie

    Sandy Nairne is a writer and curator. He was Director of the National Portrait Gallery from 2003 to 2015. He currently chairs the board of the Clore Leadership Programme, the Fabric Advisory Committee of St Paul's Cathedral and the Maggie's Art Group supporting Maggie's Cancer Care Centres, and is a newly appointed board member of the National Trust.