Auto Focus features a dazzling array of photographs by seventy-five of the world’s foremost contemporary photographers whose work focuses on self-portraiture. The photography writer and curator Susan Bright provides a clear guide for readers through this significant and dynamic genre, showing how issues of identity – whether national, sexual, racial, personal or artistic – are key to understanding the work of many of today’s leading photographers.
Bright’s lavishly illustrated, accessible survey is clearly organized into five thematic chapters that deal with diaristic and autobiographical images; pictures of the body; the use of masks and masquerade; the return to studio portraiture and the photographic album; and performance, both public and private. An informative illustrated introduction to the book points to the history of the photographic self-portrait from the 1840s to the late twentieth century, providing an invaluable context for the recent surge in artists’ images of themselves.
From intimate images of introspection and those that consciously challenge notions of ethnicity and sexuality, to dramatic, stylized photographs of dream-like scenarios, Auto Focus shows how one of the longest-established artistic genres continues to fascinate artists today.