Friday, December 15, 2017

The Art of a Selfie - Off the Wall Friday

SelfPortrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird , Frida Kahlo
Rembrandt, at about age 60
As the snow comes down outside my window, its getting to be that time of year for self reflection.  I always try to carve some time out at the end of year to look back at where I've been and get an idea of where I want to go.

That got me thinking about the idea of self reflection  . . . . onto the idea of reflection. . . .and our society's new fascination of the selfie.   But really is it new? I started thinking about how many artists spend time creating their own selfies and what that says about them.

Some artist create several portraits of themselves.  Rembrandt has over 90 of them.  Yes - 90!!  They create a type of autobiography of himself since he painted himself as he really was.

My favorite self portraits are the ones that really depict more about the inner artist than what the mirror reflects.  Case in point, Gustave Courbet's  The  Desperate Man manages to blend the romanticism style of the time (1845) with the very real emotional struggle he wanted to convey.  Its the kind of portrait that makes you want to look at over and over again.

The Desperate Man, Gustave Courbet

Rockwell's Triple Self Portrait

Another one of my favorites, is Norman Rockwell's Triple Self Portrait.  As always, its Rockwell's mixture of humor and relatable subjects that is so interesting.  This time its him at work.    Notice the artist self portraits in the upper right hand corner, showing that even Rockwell was inspired by other artists.  As his assistant will attest to most of the features of the piece are real on how the artist actually worked.  Really its the cleverness of a the triple reflection that is so intrigued me in this piece.

How about Andy Warhol's self portrait.  For a man who courted publicity and walk in the limelight, you can tell with his self portrait that he really was a deeply private man.  It's him but he's still camouflaged to plain view.

I really could go on.  There are a TON of amazing self portraits out there  - to inspire and reflect on.   I might just have to start thinking about making my own.  Until then I'll just have to content myself with this selfie taken with my sister Laura.

So What Have Been Up to Creatively?


  1. I would love to go to an art museum with you! Your art knowledge and more important your appreciation of the masters is inspiring. Thank you for sharing some of it with us.

  2. Interesting that the post I am sharing is my mixed media self-portrait.

  3. In 1992 our family visited relatives in London, England. One afternoon the lady of the house took me to a stately home -- converted to an art gallery -- ostensibly to "see the Gainsboroughs". I went; I saw; I wasn't impressed. However, as we got separated in the gallery, I found myself at the doorway of a small room hung with paintings. Directly across from me at the door was a Rembrandt self-portrait. I don't recall which of the 90 or so it was...but I can tell you this: it positively glowed against the dark wall on which it was mounted. I got goose-bumps. I've never forgotten how he looked at me from the frame. "Blue Boy" be-darned. Give me a Rembrandt "selfie" any time!


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