Friday, July 08, 2016

Self Portraits

Sometimes an artist can't afford a model. Or perhaps there are no models available. Or maybe the artist is shy or introverted, or a beginner reluctant to involve others in his flight of fancy. Whatever the reason(s) there have probably been millions of self portraits drawn, scribbled, painted, or otherwise devised over the centuries.

Albrecht Durer did a number of self portraits, his first at a precocious age 13.
Albrecht Durer, "Self portrait," 1484

Rembrandt is particularly well-known for self portraits. He painted something near a hundred, many of which have become virtually iconic. My favorite is the one in the National Gallery, Washington D.C. (shown). There are others that seem more realistic, given his aging, straightened circumstances, but this one is well-loved.
"Self portrait in a beret," 1659

One of my favorite artists of all time, Jean-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin did self portraits in pastel. Chardin had an astonishing facility with still life, but did a number of images of himself and his wife. My particular favorite is this one from 1771.
Jeab-Baptiste-Simeon Chardin, "Self portrait with spectacles," 1771

Vincent van Gogh couldn't afford (or cajole) models much of the time so he painted around thirty self-portraits, including a couple after he famously cut off a piece of his right ear and gave it to a prostitute (Some say Gauguin cut it off with a sword.).
"Self portrait with bandaged ear," 1889

Many others have produced selfies during the past century and a half, everyone from Ilya Repin to Chuck Close. Photographers in our time use self imagery quite often--Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman, and others.
Here is my own self-portrait from a few years ago, painted alla prima. I still have the sweatshirt.
Gary Hoff, "Self portrait," 2012
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