Stranger's Portraits in the Home

Stranger's Portraits in the Home

Leah Moss
Jun 12, 2009

Growing up in a family full of portrait painters, I had never thought that it might seem weird to have paintings of perfect strangers in the home until a friend raised the issue a few weeks ago. "But portraits are so personal," she argued, "it's weird to have a stranger's face looking out from your walls. It's like taking a picture of someone's face that you see on the metro and tacking it up on your wall. Kind of creepy." I respectfully disagreed. In oil paint or on film, I think portraits — regardless of who the subject is — lend a refreshingly human element to any room. What's your take?

If you are a little wary of hanging stranger's faces in your home, grouping them is a good way to get the look with a less personal impact.

I love the way the portraits around the TV (a very impersonal object in my opinion) bring the space to life.

For the lovers of the look, including them in unexpected places—the bathroom, the kitchen, the porch, etc. — heightens the dramatic effect.

What about you? Love the look or weirded out?

If you should be so portrait-ly inclined, the Georgetown Flea Market is a great place to look for vintage oil paint portraits at decent prices. Also, check out student shows at the Washington Studio School, The Art League school at the Torpedo Factory, and the Corcoran.

(Images: James Merrell, 2,3: Sally Wheat via Cote de Texas, 3: Kim of Desire to Inspire via Apartment Therapy, 4: Leah Moss)

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