October 1, 2008 / 4:47 PM / 10 years ago

State of flux portrait of architect Hadid unveiled

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A portrait of architect Zaha Hadid went on display at one of Britain’s leading art galleries on Wednesday and fittingly for a woman known for her futuristic designs the picture is not what it seems.

Artist Michael Craig-Martin, a former teacher of Damien Hirst, has portrayed Hadid in the form of a computer portrait that constantly changes so that no visitor to the National Portrait Gallery will see the same image of her twice.

The portrait is a live LCD monitor that hangs on a wall like a painting and shows a line drawing of Hadid, who in 2004 became the first woman to win the Pritzker prize, architecture’s equivalent of the Nobel prize.

Based on photos taken by Craig-Martin the line drawing is fixed, but the colors and background are changed by computer software, so the picture is in a constant state of flux.

“It’s an honor to have my portrait commissioned by the Trustees,” said the 58-year-old Baghdad-born Hadid.

“Since I was a child visiting the Gallery with my parents, the collection has offered me moments of reflection and fascination, and I have a great respect for Michael Craig-Martin’s work.”

Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery added: “The portrait of Zaha Hadid is startling and magical, reflecting the brilliance of both sitter and artist.”

Hadid’s futuristic designs include the BMW Central Building in Leipzig, Pheano Science Center in Wolfsburg and Innsbruck’s Nordpark railway station, as well as the showpiece aquatics center designed for the 2012 London Olympics.

The New York Times has described Hadid’s Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati as the most important building in America since the Cold War.

Born in the Republic of Ireland before moving to America and then coming to Britain in 1966, the 67-year-old Craig-Martin is best known for his “Oak Tree” sculpture which Hirst has dubbed the “greatest piece of conceptual sculpture.”

As well as Hirst, Craig-Martin is regarded as having been an influence on other Britart figures such as Julian Opie, Gary Hume and Sarah Lucas when he tutored them at Goldsmiths College in south London in the 1990s.

Craig-Martin’s portrait of Hadid is on display in the Portrait Gallery’s Contemporary Galleries in central London.

Reporting by John Joseph; Editing by Luke Baker and Paul Casciato

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