Brenda Zlamany – Shifting Historical Iconographies

In Dialogue with Brenda Zlamany

Portrait of Brenda Zlamany with the Davenport Dining Room Scene, 2018. Oil on panel. Left panel: 58 x 42 in. Right panel: 58 x 39 in. Photo courtesy of Robert Lowell.

In recent years we have been experiencing a major re-examination of iconographies and narratives portrayed in historical paintings and sculptures—portraits of male figures re-evaluated and removed, portraits of females and people of color, added. Working within the context of historical portrait painting, till surprisingly quite recently, has implied working within a mostly male dominated territory, for both artist and subjects. Additionally, depicting Historical figures requires the artist to develop their own research approach, which typically differs from the process of depicting living subjects. Painter Brenda Zlamany, who has been commissioned to paint several substantial group portraits of historical women, among them—Yale’s First Seven Women PhDs and Rockefeller University’s five women scientists—elaborates on these issues and describes her approach to historical portrait paintings.

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