Luca Del Baldo paints portraits of art critics and historians — often people he has never met — and then requests their response to complete the work.

The title of the project is The Visionary Academy of Ocular Mentality. You could say that Luca Del Baldo is the academy’s official portraitist. If he paints your portrait, then you have become a member. The title came from Arthur C. Danto, whose portrait Luca had painted.

— John Yau

Some years ago Luca Del Baldo, who is an Italian professional portrait painter, initiated a marvelously imaginative project. Working entirely on his own, outside of any art world institutions, he asked famous art critics, art historians, and philosophers for headshot photographs of themselves, which he used to make paintings. He then shared the paintings with his subjects and told them to comment on the results. His goal was thus not simply to make a portrait, but to establish a relationship with his subject; how that person responds is revealing.