The Mirror (1966) by Fairfield Porter

The Mirror - Fairfield Porter - 1966

Artwork Information

TitleThe Mirror
ArtistFairfield Porter
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions72 x 60 in
Art MovementContemporary Realism
Current LocationThe Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

About The Mirror

The artwork titled “The Mirror,” created by Fairfield Porter in 1966, is an oil on canvas that belongs to the Contemporary Realism art movement. With dimensions of 72 x 60 inches, this portrait is part of the collection at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art located in Kansas City. The genre of the painting, which is a portrait, implies a focused representation of individuals, in this case rendered with a realist style that captures the subtleties and complexities of human presence within a space.

“The Mirror” is an introspective piece that blends elements of interior domestic space with personal reflection. The most striking feature of the artwork is the contrast between the vividly dressed figure in the foreground—the only subject directly facing the viewer—and the secondary figures, one turned away and the other visible only as a reflection in a large mirror dominating the composition. The woman in the foreground, seated and dressed in warm, reddish tones, holds a book in her lap, offering a sense of stillness and contemplation.

Behind her, a man stands with his hands in his pockets, his posture relaxed yet attentive, his gaze directed outside the frame. Meanwhile, in the mirror’s reflection, we see another figure seated at a table, providing a layered perspective that challenges the viewer’s sense of space and presence. Around these figures, the room is depicted with muted tones, except for the bright patch of light entering through the window, which suggests an external world beyond the confines of the room.

The painting is remarkable for its use of light, color, and composition to subtly weave a narrative that invites speculation about the relationships between the subjects, their thoughts, and their surroundings. The artwork’s realistic portrayal is enriched by a quiet tension between the seen and unseen, the known and the unknowable, imparting a sense of the everyday that is nonetheless filled with introspection and depth.

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