National Portrait Gallery, London

Today I visited the National Portrait Gallery in London, which ranges from typical Victorian-era busts and oil paintings of dead white men and women, to more contemporary works, almost all painting, with the occasional photograph of an artist or the Queen in her younger years.

The exhibition included a portrait competition of contemporary artists. Many or even most of these paintings were photorealism. Very few of them were abstract in any sense of the word, which makes sense considering it's a museum dedicated to portraiture.

The winner of the first prize, though, was a painting with hardly any life. I couldn't imagine how it'd garner even a second glance, let alone first prize. Just another reminder that all art is subjective. Even in the world's greatest museums, whether it be the Louvre or the Uffizi or the MOMA in New York, everything that is on display is there only because somebody, or a small group of somebodies, wielding great power and influence, decided it should be there.

There were some photographs of (not by) Welsh artist, Augustus John, but interestingly none of his paintings, as far as I could tell, were on display. But the photographs and accompanying text told the story of an interesting man, a British painter obsessed with Gypsy culture, a man with two wives, and children by each, a British icon who lived into his 80s before dying in 1961.