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University of Chicago Press


Recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic have forced many of us, including artists, to view ideas of closeness in a new light. Kinship, published on the occasion of the National Portrait Gallery’s tenth “Portraiture Now” exhibition, features the work of eight leading contemporary artists who explore familial relationships through photography, painting, sculpture, and performance. Contemporary portraiture offers a way to consider the mutable yet enduring qualities of kinship and the internal and external forces that affect our bonds with others. For example, interpretations of distance—whether emotional, physical, or geographical—have recently become more fraught. By recognizing the transformations that occur in the genre of portraiture and the threads that today’s portraits share, we can better understand the universality and specificity of kinship.

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