The Platonic Photographer: The Role of Political Portraiture and the Task of the Photographer as Author

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This discourse explores the genre of political portraiture and general questions about the ability of portraits to convey information about the images’ subjects. Contemporary portraitists do not profess to capture or reveal any insight into the inner lives of their subjects. For example, Platon Antoniou’s commentaries on his portraits in Platon’s Republic and in Portraits of Power focus more on the production of the portraits and Antoniou’s experiences rather than providing any psychological analysis of his subjects. However, many viewers assume that portraiture provides a connection to the sitters, especially when they have an emotional response to the person depicted, such as a politician who has a great effect on society. Readings from Plato’s Republic help to shape a question that reflects the portraitist’s dilemma: whether to produce a divinely inspired portrait or a deceptive imitation that provides only surface information. This dilemma leads to questions about the photographer’s skill set and relationship to the sitter. The discourse concludes with a recognition of the photographer’s knowledge of presentation and performance, his craft being the production of the images, and of the photographer’s role as the politician’s partner in creating a representation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAthens Dialogues E-Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • portraiture
  • photography
  • Plato
  • Platon
  • Ion
  • rhapsode

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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