February 4th, 2011

piranha - violently blue.

Favorite Self-Portraits in Art History

In my art history class, we are partnering with a campus painters' group for a special project. The painters will be creating a mural with twenty-something self portraits by the world's greatest artists. They'll be recreating images of Van Gogh, da Vinci and the like on a huge scale - I think each portrait will be roughly twelve to fifteen feet high.

Our class, therefore, was divided into groups of five or six and assigned time periods. My group was 1600-1800. The artists I ended up submitting to my group were El Greco, Caravaggio, and Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. But although I like these painters as individuals, none of them created a favorite portrait.

If I could have picked any time period, here are the self-portraits I would have submitted:

Gustave Courbet
Doesn't he bear a resemblance to Johnny Depp?

Artemisia Gentilleschi
A great image of an artist at work.

Marie Bashkirtseff
I like the dramatic contrast between her black dress and the white collar, and her somber expression.  Manet painted a portrait of Berthe Morisot that I like for similar reasons.

Joshua Reynolds
Like the Courbet self-portrait, I like this one for the unusual pose and the painterly brushstrokes. I can't say I'm a fan of Reynolds' other paintings, but there's something I like about this particular one.

There's something very iconic about this portrait.  Raphael was always very good with faces, giving each of his sitters a special glow and serenity of expression.

Kasimir Malevich
I don't much care for Malevich and his Supremist movement, but I've always enjoyed this portrait for the intensity of expression and rich color.

Van Gogh
Everyone recognizes a Van Gogh when they see one, and he painted many self-portraits over his lifetime.  I've always liked this one because it's the only one without a beard, and it has many energetic, vigorous brush strokes.