Self-portraiture shows no sign of losing its ability to capture the public imagination. Given our current proclivity to snap and share ‘selfies’ in seconds, it is unsurprising to find a renewed interest in the genre among general audiences and students. Self-portraits have the power to illuminate a range of universal concerns, from identity, purpose and authenticity, to frailty, futility and mortality.
In this volume, curator Natalie Rudd expertly casts fresh light on the self-portrait and its international appeal, exploring the historical contexts within which self-portraits have proliferated and considering the meanings they hold today. With commentaries on works by artists ranging from Jan van Eyck and Artemisia Gentileschi to Francisco Goya, Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo and Jenny Saville, the book explores the emotive and expressive potential of self-portraiture, and its capacities to distance or to demystify. Can self-portraits offer windows into artistic process? Is there ever a singular identity to be captured? Is it necessary for a self-portrait to depict the human form? In her vibrant and timely discussion, Rudd dissects these and other important questions, revealing the shifting faces of individuality and selfhood in an age where we are interrogating notions of personal identity more than ever before.