The Art Of "Selfies"
The art of making self-portraits has been around since the earliest of times, often produced as an historical record of the artist that has made it. However, self-portraiture can be an exploration of the person’s face, body, and personality along with a visual journal documenting a moment in time.
Out of the 143 paintings produced by Frida Kahlo, 55 were self-portraits and can often be viewed as her biography. She used her experiences in life, physical & emotional pain, and her turbulent relationship with Diego Rivera as inspirations to fuel her legendary work. Similar to Frida, Tracy Emin drew from her past when creating her self-portraits in the series “The Last Thing I Said to You was Don’t Leave Me Here II.” She is not shy of laying her life bare and it is no surprise that Tracy’s vulnerability is key to her success. When looking at her portraits, it is very much like an autobiographical reading. Tracy Emin’s story is hinted at but never really spelled out, thus the viewer is left to draw his or her own conclusions about what may have happened in her past and allows us to sympathize with her and to admire the emotional honesty that is presented.
Andy Warhol’s self-portraits show us how he saw himself or how he wanted to be seen. He famously said “If you want to know about Andy Warhol, then just look at the surface of my pictures, my movies & me and there I am, there’s nothing in between.” In real life, Andy was brutally aware of his own vanity; wanting to fight against the natural aging process. However, in his self-portraits Andy strips clean of those uncertainties and took the bold and rare step of openly displaying the aspect of himself that the public so rarely got a glimpse of. He chose to display himself in the plainest, simplest and most direct ways possible.
Today, “selfies” are often seen splashed along the pages of social media, most often showing the viewer how he or she wants to be seen. DegreeArt’s Maja Beattie creates a self-portrait using the ideas that are present in selfies on social media. She paints her self-portrait portraying an “alter ego” with the intentions of showing everyone the side of herself that she most wants them to see.
Samantha Wilson draws her self-portraits with the intentions of not always being the viewer’s idea of “pretty.” Much like Tracy Emin, she wants her viewers to feel something when they look at her work, even if those feelings are sadness or disturbance. Thus she uses dark colors, which might be interpreted as gloomy, hoping that her work provokes emotion. Jennifer Maidment creates self-portraits with every series she works on, hoping to capture a moment in time, the feelings and the stories that are currently going on at that time. Nick Lord (title image), an artist who specializes in painting people, paints a portrait of himself perhaps for the same reason that Andy Warhol does; he wants to share with the viewers how he sees himself as a person.
All different forms of self-portraiture is represented within DegreeArt’s artist telling their own story.
Have a look through more self portraits from our artists and see if you can decipher what is being told.