Portrait of an Ancient Friend


Oil and collage on canvas

152.5 x 98 x 3 cm

The portrait of a young woman in a hieratic pose has strong medieval accents - embroidered clothing and an old headdress. Portrait of an Ancient Friend clearly refers to Renaissance art. But Martial Raysse's deep revisiting gives the work a whole new dimension. By gluing Piero del Pollaiolo’s Portrait of a Young Woman and covering it with paint, Raysse redraws the contours of an ideal face that tends towards alienation.

Breaking down the female stereotype, he abolishes borders and time in the inner space of the painting. This radical break between the medieval image and revisited Pop Art leads to the evocative combination of an ideal form of beauty and its critique.

At the heart of a period of intense creativity that critiqued a fetishised femininity, Raysse's Portrait of an Ancient Friend is in the Pinault Collection. It was first exhibited at the "Sequence 1" show in 2007 at the Palazzo Grassi.