The Self Portrait: objective honesty -vs- tainted egotism

The self portrait is the unwritten rule and right of every artist. Although they are often sidelined by art historians or left sitting in the inside flap of a dust cover, we recognise them. We consume them. We study them. Artists replicate themselves on their own canvasses and a 'brand' is created. Or rather, they transform themselves on their own canvasses. For an artist can never be objective. Art is emotion. And emotion is purely subjective. Debaters and haters may say the self portrait is mere egotism; tainted egotism. But that can be quickly disregarded when you consider that art itself is egotism, and that the artist is narcissistic by very definition. What is art, if not a display of self? The self portrait is perhaps the purest and most revealing kind of art there is, then, and by that very merit is the only way the artist has of being truly revealing about themselves: their own kind of objective honesty. After that the artist stares at us. And asks us to create our own meaning for that look. As with any art, the meaning becomes our own translation of the work's original purpose. This is what makes it endlessly fascinating.

Lucian Freud (1922-2011)
Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989)
Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)
Peter Blake (b.1932)
Tracey Emin (b.1963)

Francis Bacon (1909-1992)
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)
Salvador Dali (1904-1989)
Sarah Lucas (b.1962)
Edward Hopper (1882-1967)
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (1606-1669)

Vincent Van Gogh (1953-1890)
David Hockney (b.1937)
Andy Warhol (1928-1987)


Popular Posts