Anne von Westphalen (DE)

Anne von Westphalen (DE)
Text written by GHA

German artist Anne von Westphalen uses circular wood and cotton panels alongside acrylic paint to create her often covered, faceless  portraits.

The circular shape and luminous foregrounds breathes life into the figures within the artworks, as if they were protruding outward. The abstract background, is characterised by expressive brushstrokes in opaque colours, which forms an undefined space.

By concealing the faces of the portraits, the figures become anonymous. As viewers remain unaware of their identities, the focus shifts towards their clothing, colour palette, and face coverings. This raises questions about whether we are meant to speculate about the appearance of these figures or if the artwork serves as a commentary on preconceived notions of identity.

Anne von Westphalen

With the rise of social media, facial profiles have become increasingly influential in determining someone’s identity. By obscuring the subjects’ faces, Westphalen comments on the lack of individualism prevalent on social media. Online profiles often showcase only the highlights of a person’s life, creating unrealistic comparisons with our own lives. The circular format of the paintings resembles profile photos, thereby reflecting the absence of personal identity. The artist skillfully plays with superficiality in the digital age, prompting viewers to question their own reductionist gaze.


The figures’ clothing, face covering, and pose offers a glimpse into their characters and emotional states. Some of the subjects appear distressed, while others sit comfortably, thus displaying different aspects of the digital age. Certain individuals struggle to remove their face coverings, while others seem accustomed to the mystery surrounding their identities

The overall anonymous nature of these works captivates and intrigues the audience allowing them to ask questions and interact with the work.

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