La Feinte [The Sham]

Jan Vercruysse


Photography, 220 x 180 x 130 cm.
Materials: wood, iron, marbles

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. BK006855).

La Feinte is part of a long series of portrait photographs commonly referred to as Portraits of the Artist, which Vercruysse made between 1977 and 1984. These carefully staged photographs are printed reproductions with a circulation of only one: in this way, Vercruysse challenges the reproducibility of the image in photography. In many of the portraits of this series, including La Feinte, Vercruysse himself is the model. His measured pose and the well-considered composition refer to the conventions of traditional portraiture. Nonetheless, this is not a traditional self-portrait: the image is fractured, as if it were the reflection of a broken mirror. Moreover, the frame surrounding the portrait suggests that we are looking at a photo of a photo. This work is a sophisticated structure, in which the artist merely seems a background actor. This might be a portrait of 'the artist', but is it a portrait of Jan Vercruysse? With La Feinte, Vercruysse explores the boundary between still life and portraiture, as well as the role of the artist in his work.

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