Facing History: Contemporary Portraiture is a display of 80 prints and photographs drawn from the V&A’s collection, exploring the variety of artists’ responses to the idea of portraiture over the last 20 years. On display is work by over 20 artists including Julian Opie, Grayson Perry, Thomas Ruff, Maud Sulter and Gavin Turk. Portraits range from colour woodcuts and photographs to black and white etchings, cut paper silhouettes and bronze medals.
The display highlights how contemporary artists have taken inspiration from traditional modes of portraiture such as portrait miniatures, medals and death masks. It includes a pair of prints, Mr and Mrs Perry (2005) by Grayson Perry which were inspired by pictures produced by amateur artists in the 19th century prior to the popularisation of photographic portraits. In creating the works, Perry imitated the crude style of such artists, using lino-cut on printed pattern papers.