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Truman Capote 19241984
 
Don Bachardy never makes preliminary sketches for his large portrait drawings, preferring "to get it right the first time." His usual practice is to draw one eye and scale the rest of picture around it. Bachardy has found that such "eye contact" results in "a real exchange of energy." For him, every portrait is a record of the interchange of two personalities at a particular moment.

When Truman Capote published his debut novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms, in 1948, his dust-jacket photograph established his image as a frivolous latter-day Oscar Wilde. Bachardy's large-scale drawing challenges the stereotype, conveying a more thoughtful and vulnerable personality. At the time of this drawing, Capote was finishing In Cold Blood, a "nonfiction novel" about a brutal murderer. Critics recognized his effort to distance himself from his previous fiction. Capote had "traveled far from the misty, moss-hung, Southern Gothic landscapes of his youth," one wrote. "He now broods with the austerity of a Greek or an Elizabethan."

Don Bachardy (born 1934)
Graphite on paper, 1964
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Don Bachardy
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