Even Selfies Have Artistic History

September 11th, 2017

From GVNews.com: Centuries before iPhones — or even cameras set atop tripods — captured “selfies,” artists successfully recreated their likenesses by drawing, painting or perhaps sculpting in front of a sheet of shiny silver metal before mirrors became commonplace.

On Sept. 6, docent Gerry Bates from the University of Arizona Museum of Art presented “Selfies: Self Portraits Throughout the Ages” at the Green Valley Library. More than two dozen attendees came to learn about the history of the modern “me-oriented” photography.

Displaying etchings, photography, paintings in different media, stone cuttings and other successful processes, Bates showed photographic slides of what are now known as “selfies.”

Some were by well-known artists, others by lesser-known artists showing that, centuries ago, creating one’s likeness was an artistic goal.

An oil-on-wood, “Self Portrait in a Fur-Collared Robe” by Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) done in shades of brown was completed in 1500.

A self-portrait of “Young Woman Drawing,” an oil on canvas by Marie Denise Villers (1774-1821), included some background and the sun shining through a broken window. The painting hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Bates showed a photographic slide by Robert Cornelius (1809-1893) taken in 1839 that may be considered a true original selfie. The daguerreotype photograph is in the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division in Washington, D.C.

A brightly colored “Self Portrait with Bandaged Ear,” done in oil on canvas in 1889 by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), showed the artist not ashamed to publicize his appearance.

Perhaps the most popular self portrait done by a well-known artist is “Triple Self Portrait,” created in 1959 by Norman Rockwell (1894-1978). It shows Rockwell painting his likeness while looking at himself in a large mirror. The 44-by-34-inch oil-on-canvas painting hangs in the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Today’s selfies have the added benefit of allowing the photographer to share it instantly with friends and family wherever. It can be disseminated seconds after it was clicked to show where you were and what you were just doing.

They all may not be artistic, but today’s selfies sure are quic