Keeping alive the tradition of figuration, even in the midst of the vogue for abstraction, California artist Don Bachardy mastered a particular form of portrayal few can imitate: the large-scale, closely observed life portrait drawn with graphite lines or light ink and graphite washes. Bachardy relishes the intense, sometimes uncomfortable, collaboration that results from prolonged staring at a subject and considers each sitting a portrait in time, recording the mood of the moment. While he does not have that interaction in his self-portraits, he does apply the same standard of intense observation to his own features.
Here, Bachardy combines the softly applied wash of hair and torso with the sharp contour and meticulous shading of the facial profile. Even in his selfportraits, he “seems to leap at his subject,” as one critic wrote, and wrings “every nuance of feature and gesture with swift discerning eye.”


  • Title: Don Bachardy
  • Creator: Don Bachardy
  • Date Created: 1976
  • Physical Dimensions: w48 x h61 cm (Sheet)
  • Type: Graphite and graphite wash with charcoal on paper
  • Rights: © Don Bachardy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Gift of Don Bachardy and Craig Krull Gallery, Santa Monica, California
  • External Link: https://npg.si.edu/object/npg_NPG.2013.122
  • Classification: Drawing

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