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Anne Labovitz: Composite Portrait

Special Exhibition Gallery

June 4 - August 11, 2013


The artworks on exhibition are densely layered portraits made to appear highly textured. The artworks combine drawing with multi-colored painting surface and woodblock printing overlays.


The work is intended to represent a mixture of feeling and memories represented in a close relationship.


To learn more about this exhibition, click on one of the links below:








Anne Labovitz is a full-time practicing, professional artist who lives and works in St. Paul, MN. Exhibited within and outside the U.S., Anne has international gallery and museum representation including galleries in Spain and Germany.


Her paintings are part of the permanent collections at the Tweed Museum of Art in Duluth, MN, the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla, CA and the International Gallery of Portrait in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Additionally, she is frequently commissioned and has paintings both abroad and in the U.S. in hotels, hospitals, banks, salons and private corporations.


Anne graduated with a degree in art and art education from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN with Honors. She has trained in studios in Italy, Santa Fe, New York, Massachusetts and North Carolina. Her passion for art education both in schools and in the community continually keeps her busy teaching within both public and private schools and offering workshops to artists of all ages around the Twin Cities. In the spring of 2012, Anne curated an event with over 700 pieces of student artwork. She is extremely active in the art community in the metro area and is both a member of the Board of Trustees for the Walker Art Center and the Colleagues Advisory Board at the Weisman Art Museum on the campus of the University of Minnesota. Recently added to her repertoire of accomplishments is the role of juror in two separate design competitions, including the redevelopment of outside public space at the Weisman Art Museum.


Both Anne’s portraits and landscape pieces have been published in Who’s Who in Contemporary Art, New American Paintings Midwest 2010, the Penang International Printmaking Exhibition 2010 and International Contemporary Artists, vol II and III. She has co-authored several books on portraiture with Australian artist, Carole Best, and provided illustrations for the children’s book, Honoral & Zarina. Additionally, her artwork was selected to be the cover art for two books and the program cover at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla, California for their 2011-2012 music season. Her Artwork has been written about in the Chicago Sun Times, the Duluth News Tribune and the Taos Review amongst others.


Upcoming Exhibitions in 2013 include a solo portraiture exhibit at the Tweed Museum of Art in Duluth and a landscape exhibition at Charles Harris Library Gallery in Wise, VA. Coinciding with her exhibition in Virginia, Anne will be teaching workshops on portraiture to local high school and college students.


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The driving force behind my work is an enduring interest in people; in the human spirit, its emotional resonance and the way it manifests in our relationships with others.


Throughout my career as an artist I have been heavily influenced by the German Expressionists, in particular Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. I have been profoundly moved by the early woodcuts of Max Beckmann and I actively seek to preserve the same kind of powerful and dynamic marks in my own woodblocks by use of grades of wood prone to breaking out and splintering. I seek raw dynamic qualities as a metaphor for the base, unbridled and instinctual aspects of our being.


My portrait work combines woodcut impressions hovering between layers of painting and drawings. It assimilates the multifaceted experiences of a person's life – communicating its intricacies, subtleties and internal fragments.

These portraits are composites. Each piece is comprised of multiple subjects or family members as representations of the complex composition of identity. The artworks demonstrate how, layered by a confluence of experiences, character and personality become one’s persona. I am compelled to embed and surround the face with a collection of symbolic details. I accomplish this by adding and reducing visual components, which obscures conventionally descriptive depictions. The overlapping and ghosting of the layers eventually creates an amalgam. These complex portraits – with imagery sometimes visible, sometimes masked – develop over months in a way similar to how we grow and change as humans.

I am drawn to multilayered works because each stratum indicates fragments of identity. They are more than mere representations of identity, in my mind they exist as the layers of one’s persona Just as significant moments in one’s life build our character and shape us, so too, do the layers I apply to each piece. In this way – working across multiple pieces at any one time, intentionally applying layers – what lies beneath is often subdued. I am compelled to what might be revealed and obscured by this approach, and am more interested in building my people rather than crafting them.


The process begins with daily photo-documentation of my subjects on the assumption that using multiple photos provides an aspect of time continuum comprised of emotion, reaction, and dialogue. Then I replace the photographs by drawing from them. The drawings then become a memorial record.


This transformation of photographic depiction to line is applied to many kinds of surfaces, using any number of media. For this body of work in particular, I also employ my drawing with woodblock techniques. Each piece is comprised of individuals whose drawings are carved in wood for relief printing. Sometimes, a single face spans several boards, allowing it to be separated and printed in fragments. My works develop through layer after layer of drawing and printing from the woodcuts of each family member. Thin layers of acrylic polymer emulsion are used in between these layers to fossilize the marks made with ink and pastels. By using this layering technique the surface builds in depth and transparency simultaneously.

In the last year, I have added the dimension of video to my studio practice, collaborating on two films and employing the use of motion-sensor cameras to document my artistic process. Presently, I replay audio recordings of conversations with individuals and families while painting to increase my understanding and connection to that person. I am interested in broadening the use of media to highlight my main focus – to engage and participate in a conversation about who we are as individuals, and as members of families and of our communities.



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