Saturday, October 29, 2011

Self-Portraits in Art

I had been hesitant on the idea of self portraits in photography for a very long time.  For the most part, I thought that self portraits were a conceited effort for self promotion.  Considering all the possible subjects there are for one to capture, I never thought of myself as a good one to start with.  I am average looking, average built, and certainly a typical thirty something woman trying to make the best of her life experience.  

A couple of months ago, I was alone at my apartment cleaning up my studio.  It's a small room where I keep all my DIY projects that I never finished, along with my photography equipment.  I then spotted some peacock feathers that I had bought some time ago, and then suddenly, I had the urge to pick up my camera.  The Feather Eye photo is one of my favorite fine art pictures so far in my store, and it turned out to be a self portrait.  Talk about irony.

Since then I had been reading on the subject.  Contrary to my limited assumptions, self portraits are a very important stage in the life of an artist.  We live with ourselves, and understanding our own nature is the first step for understanding anything else.

I can quote and share thousands of artists whose self portraits have turned out to be the cornerstone of their work.  Here are some of my favorites...

Vincent van Gogh was an avid self portrait artist.  He was a sensitive soul whose last words were "The sadness will last forever".  A troubled soul, van Gogh turned out to be one of the most influential figures in the Post-Impressionism art movement.

I was lucky to be able to see a small exhibition on her work last year, while visiting the MoMA in NYC.  Frida Kahlo's work is irreverent, unapologetic, and honest.  She used painting as a way of escapism, giving us a peak into her mind and soul.

Vivian Maier is probably unknown to most of us, but her work as an amateur street photographer  is stupendous.  She died in 2009, and after her death her work has come out and is rapidly becoming a favorite.  She held a private life as a nanny, always carrying her camera and not sharing her photographs with anyone.  It is said that she produced about 100,000 negatives throughout her life, documenting her surrounding wherever she went.  Her self portraits are that, intimate and simple.  I really like her style, showing that self portraits are as valid as a good street shot.


  1. I agree with you, the self portrait is so, so vital. I think understanding oneself and expressing this in anyway is more of a sign of wisdom and emotional intelligance that narcisism. Frida Kahlo is one of my favourite artists, possibly because I became aware of her work at such a vunerable time in my life. I too, saw an exhibition of her work, it was six years ago in the Tate Modern, I was taken aback by how small and unintrusive they were in real life. I think this goes beyond her physical scars and shows a true sign of her wisdom I think.

    I love your portrait too... the symbolism is intriguing me x

  2. How interesting. First of all, your photo is stunning! I have also at times felt that when I take a photo of my self I'm being vain, or even 'who would want to see a photo of me as art?!' But the fact that I love photography and don't have human models at my disposal means I do experiment a lot with myself behind the camera. Now I think it's all about expression and letting the universe flow through. Life delights in life and who are we to decide we aren't part of that expression?! I changed my blog picture to one that I've always liked of me...I can't control wether or not people think it's good or bad but at least I know the universe is happy with me! Hope you are really well, regards, Nadya

  3. There are sometimes when I see an image that I think is out of this world. Often they are in essence a simple form but cleverly executed and in some way they are also iconic. To me yourself portrait is one of this images. Well done, this is a classic iconic image. Do not call yourself a photographer, call yourself a photographic artist, for that is what you. It is not just about having a camera it is about having an imagination as well. You have both.

  4. sorry typo -
    ... for that is what you are.

  5. Welcome! Your blog is great and the photos are amazing, wonderful. Your blog is original. I can only envy you, a writing talent. Feel free to me
    It was to honor you if you looked at my blog, commented on and added to the observers

    I Observed your blog as a bloggerka :D


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...