As long as the human race has existed, the ‘artist’ has always been motivated to depict loved ones and relatives. From early splashes of pigment found on cave walls to the myriad of paintings in recent centuries, it seems family is essential. From the early Renaissance, Mannerism and the Baroque, painting figuratively has steadily broadened its parameters. In recent times many artists, have continued to explore figuration and portraiture using family as a source of inspiration. Some of the most well known figurative and portraiture works of the 19th and 20th century include family members. Edgar Degas’ Family Portrait (ca. 1858-67), James McNeils’s Arrangement in Grey and Black (1871), Grant Wood’s famous American Gothic (1930) and Henri Matisse’s depiction of his wife in Woman with Hat (1905) are poignant cases of family. I draw upon this rich history using the human body to explore how family units are constantly transforming and exchanging. Just like family, these paintings are filled with harmony and chaos.
Family photos were used as a source of inspiration and Birth Order, a theory in psychology was heavily investigated. Birth Order is defined as a person’s rank by age among his or her siblings. A relatively new field of study dating back to the 1870’s and the Austrian psychiatrist, Alfred Alder. He stressed thatBirth Order has a profound affect on an individual’s make up. Each child finds his own role where he/she has the chance to shine and escape the shadow of another sibling. With this knowledge Alder designed a rather rigid set of characteristics, which the first, second and third born are thought to possess.