Picturing People The New State of the Art

Charlotte Mullins

An insightful look at how artists choose to represent people in their work, and why


What drives artists to represent people as they do? This question, at the heart of figurative art, and how we represent ourselves as a society, is especially relevant today. Author Charlotte Mullins picks up the conversation at a time when the art world is influenced by the proliferation of images of all kinds, across all mediums, as well as a growing interest in figurative art.

Profiles of nearly sixty artists—from Kara Walker and Grayson Perry to Cindy Sherman and Kehinde Wiley—showcase significant works and are accompanied by the artists’ commentary, illustrating the range of motivations, mediums, and techniques driving one of the most potent genres of art today. The book is organized into five thematic sections that reflect artists’ motivations, which range from investigating the history of art itself to exploring interpersonal relationships. Mullins’s keen curatorial eye picks out informed, sometimes unexpected juxtapositions of artists that reveal new affinities and distinctions between them, making Picturing People an important contribution to the study of figurative art.


In this companion to 2006's Painting People, art critic Charlotte Mullins explores the latest wave of figurative art in the contemporary marketplace, both celebrating individual artists and contemplating why figuration has become popular yet again. […] Figurative art is a broad subject, but Mullins's astute overview pairs powerfully with the selected images, offering a perceptive argument for the enduring range and power of figuration into the 21st century.

— Publishers Weekly


Charlotte Mullins


Charlotte Mullins was educated at the Courtauld Institute of Art and Sotheby’s Institute, London. A widely experienced broadcaster on both TV and radio, she has been the editor of Art Review, V&A Magazine, and Art Quarterly.