Leadership and the Humanities

Picturing power: the depiction of leadership in art

Nicholas O. Warner * *

Keywords: art, artistic media, charisma, leadership, literature, painting, verbal, visual


This paper examines leadership as a theme in works of visual art. It begins by identifying some key theoretical issues that arise in the artistic depiction of leadership, especially in comparison to the depiction of leadership through the verbal medium of literature. The paper builds on some earlier studies of the depiction of leadership in art by describing the challenges, limitations, and advantages of studying that depiction from the dual perspectives of art history and of leadership studies, and links the above issues to the analysis of leadership in specific works of art.

Author Notes

I wish to thank the journal's anonymous reviewers for their suggestions, and my colleagues Clayton Koppes of Oberlin College, and Ronald Riggio and Ellen Rentz of Claremont McKenna College, for reading and commenting on earlier drafts of this article.

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