The Hidden Portraits deal with paintings from other epochs, which had a completely different set of values than we have today. These include the unchallenged supremacy of men.
Portraits of men are therefore mainly an expression of wealth combined with power. Whether inherited or acquired, the male portraits breathe the self-assured attitude that the Hidden Portraits frame and also satirise in many ways.
In portraits of women over the centuries, one notices a basic decorative mood with which they were created There are gradual differences, when women were also shown with insignia of power (by marriage) or they were considered intelligent and therefore hold books in their hands.
And that's just an example. However self-confident, rich or smart they were, their role in society was secondary and the view of them is quite often narrowed to a showcase of beauty.
The portraits that are the basis of Hidden Portraits are painted reality on two dimensions. Paint and brushstrokes depict skin, body, clothing and space so that we recognize them as real. The Hidden Portraits modify this painted reality and pay careful attention to the idiosyncrasies of the painters. Because each of these magnificent artists had characteristics and individual skills, which makes this amazing art so impressive to this day
If sculptures are the basis of Hidden Portraits, then the starting point is different. Because then photos of real, threedimensional objects are modified. With real objects, our eye registers the smallest errors. This creates great technical challenges, because the collage should be plausible and comprehensible.
A characteristic feature of drawings is not only the line drawn, but rather that which was not drawn. A line can show an outline of a face, the surface we complete in our imagination (because actually it is the blank sheet of paper). This is particularly challenging for the Hidden Portraits, which must feel these specifics of drawings.
A direct look at the audience also means always making contact. This can be arrogant, challenging or endearing.
The indirect look, half hidden, also hides half of the intentions, is more mysterious. Here much is left to our imagination.
The hidden gaze is rather confusing for us, because we are blocked in our estimation of facial expressions. But that leaves a lot of room for a new interpretation.
Hairstyles are part of a sometimes short-lived fashion. Some styles were in vogue only very briefly among a small elite, sometimes own hair was not enough for the desire for recognition and huge powdered cermonial wigs were invented. As parts of the head they are elementary for the Hidden Portraits, also as a possibility to refer to past fashions, of which we no longer have any clue.
Flowers are, of course, first of all a beautiful accesoir on portraits. Real or fabric flowers were often worn by women as part of clothing. The hidden portraits frequently use flowers to exaggerate notions of beauty or to draw attention to the role of women in previous periods. But beyond that, there are many established codes of what flowers represent in paintings. They are important metaphors for the interpretation of portraits and an essential component of Hidden Portraits.
Jewels are rare, precious and technically difficult to work with. In sum, the perfect tool for representation to this day. Painterly they were always a challenge because of their shiny surface and partly transparence. In Hidden Portraits, jewels are an important means of exaggeration. Alone a duplication in the works is a well-functioning metaphor for an important rank, decadence or vanity until today.
Lace is the goddess among fabrics. The transparency of lace has always attracted people, because it is delicate and difficult to manufacture. In contrast to the rough fabrics of the poorer population, lace has always been reserved for an elite.It appears on many portraits and is important for the Hidden Portraits, because it can cover a face and yet allows a mysterious glimpse of the gaze.
A large part of human creativity has always gone into the design and decoration of precious fabrics, as a basic component of clothing. Shimmering silk, complex brocades, elaborate trimmings. For the painters of portraits, it has always been a technical challenge to depict the textures of fabrics in such a way that their preciousness becomes visible to the viewer. The Hidden Portraits use these fabrics specifically for veiling, pointing out that sometimes fabrics that seem normal to us today were the height of decadence in earlier times.
Ribbons and bows are a typical decoration of clothes to make them look even more complex. There were some times when an elite was crazy about them and painters must have gone mad to paint all these small details. For the Hidden Portraits, the ribbons are an important instrument of expressing movement, for example. Wrapped widely around the body, they make many a stiff portrait swing.
What began as a small frill at the neckline evolved into an independent circular collar that could reach enormous proportions. The larger, the more important. Located close to the face, it was perceived directly by many and is of course of enormous importance for the hidden portarits. Hardly any other fashion accessory can be duplicated in such an absurd yet comprehensible way to hide the face.
The armors we know from many portraits are mostly not everyday ones, they are splendid armors, made for the big show. Of course, they are functional and show the greatest craftsmanship, but they are also a way to show power and importance. Worn exclusively by men, they are well qualified to make statements about a masculine self-image and attitude in the Hidden Portraits.
As with anything that is hard to get and not so common, it becomes expensive and exclusive. In some times only noble people were allowed to wear fur at all. What a sign of rank! The hidden portraits always like to use furs for covering. Since it is a natural material, it comes to particularly effective alienations.
The age of the Renaissance. The Middle Ages are overcome, the achievements of the ancient world are rediscovered and the human being returns to the center of thought, which is expressed in many portraits.
The era of the Baroque. Floating forms, insane excesses and the will to shape everything through the power of the human being. Whether it is nature in geometric gardens or the people themselves in clothes that give the body through huge hoop skirts or high wigs a completely new silhouette.
It starts with the crazy final phase of the baroque, the Rococo, where everyone goes crazy once again. Then the art develops into classicism, again the ancient world is used as a model. Rationality and a more romantic relationship with nature emerge, until everything evolves into Romanticism. All this also had a great impact on the art of portraiture.
A century full of political changes, contradictions and different movements of art. Romanticism, Biedermaier, Realism. This gives rise to a series of different forms of portraits.