In the first three-quarters of the 20th century Modernism rather sidelined portraiture as an art form. It was rarely concerned with the depiction of individuals whose personalities spoke for themselves: it was more interested in aesthetics and ideas: the way a work of art is constructed, the way an artist can impose a personal vision or style on his or her experience.

All well and good, and some outright Modernists produced striking and often impressive images, but the sitter of a portrait was usually less important than the theory governing the presentation, or the personality of the artist him — or herself.