Conventions and temporal differences in painted faces: A study of posture and color distribution

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The human face is a popular motif in art and depictions of faces can be found throughout history in nearly every culture. Artists have mastered the depiction of faces after employing careful experimentation using the relatively limited means of paints and oils. Many of the results of these experimentations are now available to the scientific domain due to the digitization of large art collections. In this paper we study the depiction of the face throughout history. We used an automated facial detection network to detect a set of 11,659 faces in 15,534 predominately western artworks, from 6 international, digitized art galleries. We analyzed the pose and color of these faces and related those to changes over time and gender differences. We find a number of previously known conventions, such as the convention of depicting the left cheek for females and vice versa for males, as well as unknown conventions, such as the convention of females to be depicted looking slightly down. Our set of faces will be released to the scientific community for further study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number267
JournalIS and T International Symposium on Electronic Imaging Science and Technology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event2020 Human Vision and Electronic Imaging Conference, HVEI 2020 - Burlingame, United States
Duration: 26 Jan 202030 Jan 2020

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