This week the Weekly Photo Challenge is the Selfie, something I’ve done way too many times I think. In fact I even wrote about the art of the selfie here on the blog a few years ago….I’ll repost that article at the end of this post just in case you’re interested.
Why have I taken so many selfies? Well, it’s not because I enjoy editing pictures of myself that’s for sure. But, I’ve spent so much time experimenting with lighting that I’ve seem to have run out of subjects who are willing to sit for me for any length of time. Even the cats give me a dirty look when I pull out my camera. So I’m left with only one willing (kind of) and cooperative subject….
The Art of the Self Portrait
from Oct 2011
Most artists leave a self-portrait or two behind. Call it a visual autobiography if you will. In fact Van Gogh painted himself 37 times, Albrecht Durer 12 times and Rembrandt over 60 times. Is it arrogance or simply the availability of a willing subject that attracts us to ourselves as subjects?
Self-portraits can take many forms:
- Rembrandt’s multitude of self portraits act as a chronicle of his life, beginning in his early experimental years and continuing throughout his career they provide an interesting view into how he saw himself at various stages in his life.
- Van Gogh painted the majority of his self-portraits between 1886 and 1890. They show his struggle leading up to his suicide in 1890. He even painted himself shortly after cutting off a portion of his ear in ‘Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear’
- Raphael’s ‘School of Athens’ is thought to be a who’s who of the ancient world. Raphael cast himself in the role of Apelles and can be seen in the bottom right hand corner looking out at the viewer, a different kind of signature to be sure.
- Perhaps the most arrogant of self-portraits belongs to Albrecht Durer. Untitled, it states boldly on the painting itself:
“Thus I, Albrecht Dürer from Nuremburg, painted myself with indelible colors at the age of 28 years.”
Despite the arrogance the painting is still considered one of the most stunning of its time.
Today we have automatic cameras, cell phone cameras, remote releases, self-timers, interval timers or an outstretched hand to help us with our own self-portraits. Add a dash of internet, Facebook and other photo sharing sites and you have the ‘selfie’ and the flood of self-portraits available today.
So what’s your take on ‘selfies’?
Are we chronicling our lives, gaining self-knowledge or revealing more of ourselves than we realize?
Do we compare well with the masters or has Facebook killed the self-portrait?