Part 4, Project 6 The Face, Research Self Portrait

For this I had to research artists, self portraits. I was to begin by looking at historic examples such as Rembrandt and Van Gogh, and then use the reading list and other resources at my disposal to look at some self portrait styles that have emerged in contemporary art. Look at how contemporary artists approach tone, medium , pose, story, etc. in self portraiture.

Historic self portraits seemed to be more  a likeness of the artist as they appeared  at a given time, with their moods and changes through the years being seen within the pictures. Self Portraits becoming more prolific over the years. It is said Rembrandt produce numerous self portraits. Each one very detailed and showing how his life and looks had changed over time. The paintings all seem to show the same person as they age become more affluent and then head into old age.

Vincent Van Gogh was said to paint in his own likeness, the bold unmistakeable brushwork can be seen in most of his pictures. His use of colour, pattern and brushstrokes are in the style we are all aware of.

Moving on to contemporary art, I think self portraits seem to have moved in the same direction as art itself has moved and all styles are seen. Self portraits dont seem to need to look like the person, emotion can be the main criteria, style can be loose, abstract, or minimal. This self portrait of Leon Kossoff is thickly painted, limited pallet, low tone picture and was painted with very loose brushstrokes which rendered the picture unlike the artist himself. I am guessing if the painting was a reflection of the mood he was feeling, then Leon Kossoff was in very low spirits.

Next I looked at Francis Bacon and his Triptych painted after the death of his lover in his usual style showing unmistakable grotesque figures.The one of the right is supposed to be him, but looks nothing like him at all. His painting is said to depict life draining from the body and presumably the wrestle with life itself. His lover a gaping hole in his body as his life drains away. Painting style is abstract, brushwork look to be fine, pallet limited. Oil and sand.

Last and the most grotesque self portrait I could imagine is one of Marc Quinn, he literally makes a sculpture, using a mold and 10 pints of his own blood, repeating this every 5 years. There is a need for electricity to keep the sculpture frozen and portrays a time when he was substance dependent, the sculpture being dependent on power to keep its form.

From these examples we can see that self portraiture seems to have moved on. Contemporary self portrait doesnt need to look like the person being depicted, it can show the artists mood a or snapshot in their life and emotions.


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