Allison Kunath’s Geometric Portraits of Historic Personalities

by Roxanne GoldbergPosted on

Allison Kunath uses strict geometric lines to convey the bold personalities of some of history’s most important personalities. Gloria Steinem wears her signature round glasses and long locks of the 1970s. The pioneering feminist and political activist is in the good company of fellow civil rights activist Angela Davis, who Kunath depicts with a strong upwards gaze, as if she is seeing a vision for a better future. Nelson Mandela joins the political camp alongside philosophers Nietzsche and Plato, depicted in profile, and existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre, drawn with square glasses perched upon a pointed nose.

To give them distinct personalities, Kunath places focus on the hands of early 20th century psychologists Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Freud holds a cigar and looks outwards accusingly, coaxing the viewer to lay bare his past, while Jung rests his hands on his folded fists, analyzing and peering into the unconscious. Actresses Audrey Hepburn and Josephine Baker represent two generations of entertainers, while a collection of visual artists like Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, and Georgia O’Keefe symbolize the importance of visual arts in not only the reflection, but also the shaping of modern philosophy, psychology, and politics. By using this technique of abstracted realism, Kunath breaks open the architecture of these figures’ personalities, histories and legacies.

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