Self Portraits: How do we see ourselves and how do other see us? Is a self portrait a mirror in which we look at ourselves or is it just a way of hiding ourselves?
Many artists, famous and not so famous, have probably asked themselves the same question. We at .Cent took a look at the most famous self portraits of artists such as Frida Kahlo, mostly known for her self portraits, or Vincent Van Gogh and illuminate the relevance of self-portraiture, and its aesthetic value through each individual’s varied approach to self-representation.
Drawn from personal experiences, including her marriage, her miscarriages, and her numerous operations, Kahlo’s works are often characterized by their suggestions of pain and passion and its intense, vibrant colors. Her work has been celebrated in Mexico as emblematic of national and indigenous tradition, and by feminists for its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form.
This large double self portrait ‘The Two Fridas’ was painted around the time time of her divorce with the Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Kahlo wore her heart on her sleeve when she painted, in this case almost literally. In the Frida wearing a green dress, she holds a small portrait of Diego Rivera.
Frida Kahlo said “Since my subjects have always been my sensations, my states of mind and the profound reactions that life has been producing in me, I have frequently objectified all this in figures of myself, which were the most sincere and real thing that I could do in order to express what I felt inside and outside of myself.”
VINCENT VAN GOGH
The artist painted his own image at regular intervals throughout his life. They are generally seen as insights into the psychological makeup of the great Dutch painter. This self portrait of Van Gogh has a swirling background that echoes the bust of the artist, but could also reflect the thinking of Vincent at the time of painting it.
Although the painting is almost monochromatic with an abundance of blues, the artist’s orange and yellow beard contrasts with the blues and purples of the background and clothes worn by Vincent.
Additionally to that we think you might be interested in the release of the new book Rembrandt’s Eyes by Simon Schama in September this year. The biography shows us why, more than three centuries after his death, Rembrandt continues to exert such a hold on our imagination. Deeply familiar to us through his enigmatic self-portraits, few facts are known about the Leiden miller’s son who tasted brief fame before facing financial ruin (he was even forced to sell his beloved wife Saskia’s grave).
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