Seductive Selfie

February 27, 2014

With the rise of social media the “selfie” is an ever popular way to show yourself to the world. Cameras on our phones make it possible to share images of ourselves at any moment, in the light that we choose or simply have available, naked or clothed, with an option of camera style. The opportunity for selfies is endless. Self portraits are fascinating to me because we decide how we want the world to see us. We are saying, “Here, this is what I really look like”. Even with all the available technology, people are still painting or sculpting portraits of themselves. They are still using film or wet plate processes with the help of timers or remote shutter releases to capture an image of themselves. Are we all narcissists because we love to share our faces with the world? Maybe we are simply trying to preserve something of ourselves or find a way to let it go.

Ellen Day Hale, Self Portrait, 1885

Ellen Day Hale, Self Portrait, 1885

Munch, Self Portrait with Skeleton Arm, 1895

Munch, Self Portrait with Skeleton Arm, 1895

Patricia Schappler, Self Portrait

Patricia Schappler, Self Portrait

Andre Derain, Self Portrait with a Cap, 1905

Andre Derain, Self Portrait with a Cap, 1905

Lucian Freud, Self Portrait: Reflection, 1996

Lucian Freud, Self Portrait: Reflection, 1996

Some artists are almost solely known because of the numerous self portraits they produced. What if Frida Kahlo had a smart phone? How many more images of her would exist? Would Rembrandt’s eyes appear as glassy as the sea? Would Matisse use Instagram to make everything the color it should be?

The Wounded Deer, Frida Kahlo

The Wounded Deer, Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo Self Portrait 1922

Frida Kahlo, Self Portrait, 1922

Van Gogh, Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat, 1887

Van Gogh, Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat, 1887

van Gogh, Self Portrait with Grey Felt Hat, 1886-87

van Gogh, Self Portrait with Grey Felt Hat, 1886-87

van Gogh, Self Portrait, 1887

van Gogh, Self Portrait, 1887

Rembrandt, Self Portrait, 1661

Rembrandt, Self Portrait, 1661

Degas, Self Portrait

Degas, Self Portrait

Maybe we think we are making ourselves everlasting by leaving images of ourselves behind. Maybe we are being bold by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. We are happy to say, “This is me”. We use self portraits to show the world how we want to be seen in that moment. Whether it is vanity, sheer pleasure, or simply impulse that drives the creation of the “self image”, they are an enjoyable part of history.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

The Beautiful Belly

February 4, 2013

(This is my belated New Year post.) When a new year begins, it seems that people are pushed into a “reshaping” and “new beginning” gear. We make resolutions to be a better person. We pledge to blog more consistently, or we sign up for the gym or promise ourselves we will use our membership. Not that toned arms and a flat belly are bad things, but I refuse to believe that super skinny is the only way to be beautiful. I’ve collected some images of beautiful bellies, contemporary and classic.

The inspiration for the grouping was Rembrandt’s Bathsheba. The first time I saw this image in a magazine, I became lost in Bathsheba’s soft, sumptuous stomach. Rembrandt’s painting made me long for more paintings of woman with full bodies.

While the slender body is a coveted thing in our society, these paintings are an example of how something classified as less than perfect can be a source of great beauty. This year I hope to find beauty in other hidden places.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan

To Polish or Not to Polish

November 10, 2012

Looking back at old sketchbooks and quick studies, I find myself falling in love with the smaller quick works I have done. In my last couple semesters of art school, I definitely struggled with the concept of what a completed work was and how much “finish” it needed to have. This question is not unique to me; throughout art history you can see artists pushing the boundary of what was considered a wall-worthy piece.

Of course the first piece that comes to mind is Manet’s scandalous Luncheon on the Grass:

Manet, Luncheon on the Grass

This image is now an important part of art history. It draws my attention, not because of the nude woman with the clothed men or because they are in modern dress, but it grabs me because Manet has played with the proportions, the space. The woman in the “back” of the scene is too large according the space Manet appears to be setting up. Despite how refined this piece seems to be, to me it represents Manet rebelling against the conventions of his time, against the polish.

As I began taking an inventory of other “rebellious” pieces of work I could recall, I thought of both favored and hated pieces.

Munch, The Village Street 1906

Alice Neel, Pregnant Woman 1971

Julian Schnabel, St. Francis in Ecstasy 1980

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (Skull) 1984

R.B. Kitaj, The Autumn of Central Paris 1972-73

Egon Schiele, Girl with Purple Stockings 1913

Jenny Saville, Time

Then, there are the beautiful pieces that we don’t even know if the artists themselves considered finished pieces, but we put them in museums or on pinterest anyways.

Degas, Nude Woman Drying Herself 1880

Rembrandt, Self-portrait with Open Mouth

Kirchner, Ruhendes Paar

Picasso, Portrait of Fernande Olivier

A completed piece of work cannot be labeled under the narrow characteristics of quality materials, a polished look or value according to a gallery owner. Fun, quick, or un-polished pieces continue to exist because the artists allow/allowed them to. While beautifully rendered works strike me with awe, these strange or misfit pieces speak to something more human in me, just like my own sketches. I am glad that both types are able to exist in this world.

Look. Listen. Respond.

-Megan