A Guide to Contemporary Portraits

A Guide to Contemporary Portraits cover


Sarah Howgate is Contemporary Curator at the National Portrait Gallery, London. She curated David Hockney Portraits in 2006, which toured to Boston and Los Angeles and is the co-author of The Portrait Now (2006).

Sandy Nairne was formerly Director of the National Portrait Gallery and Director of Programmes at the Tate. He has written extensively on contemporary portraiture and modern art.


Pub. Date: May 2009
Price: £6.99
ISBN: 978 185514 4040
Format: 240 x 180mm
Extent: 48pp - 58 colour illustrations
Binding: Paperback
Category: Contemporary Art

Out of print

A Guide to Contemporary Portraits
Sarah Howgate and Sandy Nairne

An introductory guide to contemporary portraiture through the prism
of the National Portrait Gallery, London. The Gallery’s Director and Contemporary Curator discuss key works from the collection and invite readers to consider recent developments in portraiture as well as what is involved in commissioning and making a portrait in the twenty-first century.

Authors Sandy Nairne and Sarah Howgate select over fifty contemporary works from the Gallery’s collection, including images of David Beckham, Zaha Hadid, J.K. Rowling and Akram Kahn, and portraits by leading British artists Tracey Emin, David Hockney, Gilbert and George, Sam Taylor-Wood and Julian Opie. With behind-the-scenes knowledge of how certain portraits came to be made, the authors offer fresh insights into the intimate relationship between artist and sitter.

The Guide is organized thematically and sections include an overview of the Gallery’s collection from the 1990s onwards, artist’s self-portraits, commissioning portraits and the artist’s process. In addition, this publication features interviews with leading British artists, revealing their working methods and the creative inspiration that drives them.

With new commissions as well as many more familiar images, readers are invited to look at contemporary portraiture afresh in order to consider why and how these works were created, and their meaning for future generations.

This product is supplied by the National Portrait Gallery Company Limited. Every purchase supports the National Portrait Gallery.