Portraiture is the recording of an individual's appearance and personality, whether in a photograph, a painting or sculpture, or other medium. It has often been a work incorporating two statements, one by the portrait artist about perception, style and skill and another by the portrait subject on his or her place in the world. Thus, attire, pose and facial expression have always played a central role in portraiture.
While traditional portraiture could be said to have reached its zenith at the end of the 19th century with the work of such artists as Sargeant and Zorn, it still remains a popular choice for patrons and artists alike. In the case of the former, an urge for self-documentation and immortalization leads many people to commission artistic likenesses to display and save for future generations. For the latter, the a focused study and rendering of a unique personage continues to be one of the most enigmatic and complex subjects available to them as artists.
In a parallel vein, the contemporary world of art and fashion is seeing a resurgence of portrait art. This new portraiture has often meant an indirect approach to the genre, even a conceptual one, or has used the subject as a foil, with portraits serving, as writer and curator Pernilla Holmes has written, "to comment on larger issues, such as individual identity, social inequities, politics, celebrity obsessionand the genre of portraiture itself." The diversity of expression is reflected in the media used: from paint to mixed media, from photography to video.