ARTmonday: 36 Obscured Portraits of Women

If you follow the ARTmonday posts,  you’ll know that as much as I love abstract art, I am especially drawn to artwork featuring female figures. Among my many posts highlighting specific female painters or more frequently, photographers, who create quirky or elusive images of women (Cig Harvey, Viviane Sassen, Natsumi Hayashi), I’ve also curated a number of roundups, including Women Thinking, Women In the Kitchen, Figures in the Landscape, Women In Water, and Girls At Play. (For more, you can also peruse my Pinterest boards Female Figures in Art, PortraitsNudes.)

I have so many images of women turning their backs on the camera, that I thought for sure I did a post of those, but I can’t find it, so maybe not. Today’s post features 36 portraits of women whose faces are obscured in some way. The overall image might be blurry, her head could be wrapped in twigs (or a shower curtain!), perhaps her hair is in her face, or she’s wearing a blindfold. Or, the image might show what could have been a perfectly straightforward rendering, but then he or she dripped paint over the visage, or whited out all traces of personality.

Some of these obscured portraits of women are cloaked in mystery, others are silly, and still others, a tad subversive. I find them all appealing. (I left out the more disturbing of the finds this time around.)


Smooth #1  •  Agnieszk Maria Zieba


Petra Stridfeldt


Andy Denzler


Barbara Baldi


Parker Fitzgerald


Melodie Mousset


“Hunger”  •  Jovana Lakovic




Julia Skopnik


Annija Muižule


Human Sculptures  •  Joakim Heltne


Jose Romussi


Wilkosz & Way


“Portrait with the Cat”  •  Chiara Elisa Ragghianti


Wool and the Gang


Yann Faucon


“Portrait with a Spectrum 3”  •  Chad Wys




“Paper Butterflies”  •  Ping Homeric


Maia Harms


“Sky of Tears”  •  Tabitha Vevers


“Essäché”  •  Flora Borsi

obscured-portrait-grace-coddington-by-tim -walker

Grace Coddington  •  Tim  Walker


Rafael Sliks


Melissa Gamwell


Mate Moro


Javier Martin


Face-Kinis  •  Peng Chen


“Ubearable”  •  Alessandro Passerini


“A Bundled Mass of Confusion”   •  Robert Flynn


Sarah Bodri


Urs Fischer


Lalla Essaydi


“Portrait of Petra Collins”  •  Neal Turner

Marianne Faithfull by David Redfern

Marianne Faithfull  by  David Redfern

ARTmonday: Tabitha Vevers

I first became acquainted with the artwork of Tabitha Vevers through my mother-in-law, who gave me a series of three small works – birds eggs in architectural frames. Later I saw one of her gilded shell pieces at their home in Cape Cod – a disturbing but compelling image painstakingly painted on the interior of a seashell. That summer I had the pleasure of dining with Tabitha, along with a number of other Provincetown artists, including her husband, photographer Daniel Ranalli, and her mother, artist Elspeth Halvorsen, who constructs dioramas. Tabitha’s dad, the late Tony Vevers, is a well-known painter. It was a fun evening, and ever since, I’ve followed her work.

I missed Tabitha’s spring show at the De Cordova, but I plan to pop into the DNA Gallery in Provincetown this week, where a group show with her work just opened. Her depictions are not only incredibly skilled and fantastically creative, but often cerebral. (Not surprising, since she graduated from Yale.) The scale of her work is small, but the pieces are not the least bit precious. I find the gold leaf adds to their surreal appeal. Tabitha creates works in series. I included a bit about each below, along with images.

Eden Series

The impetus for this series came from the confrontation over teaching the Theory of Evolution in schools.


Eden (Eveandadam)Eveandadam

Eden (Dehibernation)Dehibernation

trouble in paradise

Trouble in Paradise

* * *

Shell Series

Tabitha describes this series as both a nod to her Cape Cod childhood and a challenge to see if she could paint shells as an adult without creating kitsch. She’s often chosen to paint on unusual materials if they resonate with her ideas, but with the Shell Series it’s the other way around—the imagery has grown out of the medium itself. These works draw on mythology and folklore.





The Seaweed CollectorThe Seaweed Collector

* * *

Lover’s Eyes Series

This series plays on the convention of eye portraiture during the Georgian period of the late 18th century. Such paintings were commissioned as secret gifts for illicit lovers. These excerpt images of women’s eyes from well-known paintings, but give primacy to the gaze of the model looking out, rather than the male gaze of the original artist’s eye.

Lover's Eye La Magadelena (after Titian) Oil on Ivorine clark

La Magdalena (after Titian)

Lovers Eye Young Woman after de Benvenuto clark

Young Woman (after Girolamo de Benvenuto)

Lover's Eye- Inka (after Chuck Close

Inka (after Chuck Close)

* * *

Flying Dreams Series

Tabitha interviewed over two hundred people about their flying dreams to create this series. The paintings are painted on metal in the style of Mexican devotional paintings (ex-votos), and include a description of the dreams in the dreamers’ own words. The scenes are depicted as described, not as interpretations.

Flying Dream (Claire)

Flying Dream (Claire)

Flying Dream (Mary)

Flying Dream (Mary)

Flying Dream (Water Ballet)

Flying Dream (Water Ballet)

flyFlying Dream (Irene)