Giulio Paolini
Portrait of the Artist as a Model 1981

Artwork details

Giulio Paolini born 1940
Portrait of the Artist as a Model
Ritratto dell'artista come modello
Date 1981
Medium Plaster, graphite and 3 canvases
Acquisition Purchased 1981
Not on display

Catalogue entry


Not inscribed
Plaster head, three canvases and pencil, dimensions variable (at least 250 × 500cm.)
Purchased from Paul Maenz (Grant-in-Aid) 1981
Prov: With Paul Maenz, Cologne (purchased from the artist)
Exh: Giulio Paolini, Paul Maenz, Cologne, June–August 1981 (3)

This is a work which can be read in two very different ways. First from the point of view of a spectator standing in the room and viewing the various elements spread out across the wall, the lines creating an illusion through false perspective of an extension of the space of the room. Secondly from the point of view of the plaster male head, with the painted side of the canvas turned towards him and indications of his hands holding it. The head, placed at natural height, could be the artist displaying his work but at the same time keeping one of the panels turned towards himself and therefore secret. Or the artist could be in the position of the spectator viewing the work.

Paolini, who concurs fully with this interpretation, adds that this work is not intended to demonstrate a particular truth, but rather to describe the ambiguity which the image and the title suggest. A series of five lithographs on the same theme has been published by the Galerie Yvon Lambert in Paris. The plaster head is a cast based on the Hermes of Praxiteles. (Letter of 15 January 1983).

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984

About this artwork