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

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