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The Artist Revealed: Artist Portraits & Self-Portraits

The Artist Revealed: Artist Portraits & Self-Portraits

Lower Main Gallery

January 09, 2016 - April 03, 2016

Taking images of oneself—“selfies”—is all the rage today. One can take an infinite number of visual images of oneself and distribute them with the press of a button on a cell phone. Yet long before 2000—the year Samsung introduced the first cell phone with a built in camera—it was already popular to record one’s visage.

In the annals of art history, self-portraiture is abundant. Among the artists renowned for making images of themselves is the seventh-century Dutch painter Rembrandt van Rijan. Although art historians are still in debate over the actual number, he is assumed to have depicted himself in approximately 40 to 50 paintings, about 32 etchings, and 7 drawings. Before modern technology, self-portraits such as these took infinitely more time to complete and were the result of a painstakingly introspective process.

An effective portrait is more than a simple likeness. A successful one offers the viewer insight into the personal characteristics that make the sitter a unique individual. Artists themselves thus are particularly interesting candidates for portrait subjects. While commissioned portraits often come with expectations that the resulting image will be favorable, self-portraiture is removed from these restrictions. The artist is free to be experimental and to present him or herself in the manner of their own choosing.

The Artist Revealed brings together 50 artist portraits and self-portraits selected from the holdings of the Syracuse University Art Galleries. Representing famous names in art history from Cezanne to Chuck Close and dating from 1857 to 1992, the artworks on view encompass a wide range of media, styles, and time periods, providing insight into how artists view themselves. 

Featured artists include Milton Avery, Chuck Close, Leonard Baskin, Edward Steichen, Norman Rockwell, and Anders Zorn. Famous sitters include James McNeill Whistler, Thomas Eakins, Charlie Chaplin, C.S. Lewis, and Pablo Casals.

After viewing the exhibition, try your hand at drawing a self-portrait! Complete one or more of the drawing exercises at the hands-on stations.

A companion exhibition, Raphael Soyer: Intimate Portraits will be on view in the Soupcon Galleryhttp://www.lasm.org/exhibitions/art-exhibitions/raphael-soyer-intimate-portraits