But some well-known artists kept portraits alive by reinventing the tradition, making the pieces more abstract.
A new exhibit at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery explores how Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Elaine de Kooning and others pushed the boundaries of portraiture.
"Face Value: Portraiture in the Age of Abstraction" is a different kind of show for the portrait gallery, showing quirky ways to represent someone. Some of the familiar subjects include Marilyn Monroe, Jack Kerouac, Jackie Kennedy and Warhol.
Curators brought together more than 50 artworks for the show. Many of the paintings are large in scale. The exhibit is on view in Washington through Jan. 11.