“I found I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn't say any other way – things I had no words for.”
- Georgia O'Keeffe.
Art is a beautiful way of expressing one’s thoughts, perceptions, and emotions on a blank piece of canvas with the artistic means of multiple colors. While many use it when words fall short, some also use it for introspection and looking into one’s own flesh. The messiah of Western art, Van Gogh himself used it for self reflective purposes. Van gogh self-portrait has been beautifully completed by staining the canvas and has survived the pangs of time
So, no self portrait weren’t made to just satisfy narcissistic desires but they became tools of documenting the work of artists over the years and to further perfect themselves with the nuances and technicalities of portrait. So, let’s transport ourselves to different eras which saw some of the most famous self portrait of all times.
- Self Portrait with a Bandaged Ear
Van gogh wiggled his way into painting predominantly during the French art movement. His self portrait with a Bandaged Ear clearly speaks of his ill mental as well as physical health. The paleness of his skin highlights the paltry critical praise he received and the immediate repercussions of his psychotic breakdown. The painting in the background speaks for his fascination of Japanese art as well.
- Self portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird
Frida Kahlo skipped healing people by medicine and started doing it with her art when she was only 17. Her Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird dictates a myriad of things ranging from despair to hope. The thorn necklace is representative of worldly sufferings and her own whereas the mockingbird is a beacon of hope. A hauntingly beautiful portrait deeply infused with symbolism describes it the best.
Picasso, the revolutionary painter was much lauded for his ever-revolving oeuvre. One of his best self-portrait is seen to be made in 1901, created when he had only seen the dawn of adulthood. He can be seen dipped till toes in shades of blue in a cold Paris night. It doesn’t just signify the stinging cold weather but also the gloom which hovered over his life and the loneliness in his bones.
4.Self portrait by Rembrandt
History is evidence of the beauty of Rembrandt’s portrait but Self Portrait is one of his immensely crowning works. The first things you lay your eyes on in this portrait are his deep, dark eyes. You see a reflection of a tornado of humanly emotions ranging from melancholy to euphoria. The two circles in the background signify perfection or the artistic skill of sketching a freehand perfect circle according to some critics.
5.Self portrait at 28
This was gifted to the world by Albrecht Durer and shows the artist in brown locks who is wearing the clothes of just a shade darker. Here, he bears an uncanny resemblance to the Son, Jesus Christ. While some critics mention the portrait was the expression of gratitude to Him, others see it as self idolatry.
- Self portrait of Raphael
Raphael rose to glory during the Italian Renaissance and in his self-portrait theface is shown in perfectly fine strokes. His brown hair is seen caressing his neck and his neutral expression seems to reflect a multitude of things about him. This self portrait is his image through his own eyes which depicts the Renaissance’s idea of masculinity.
7.Portrait of a man in red chalk
The legendary painter Leonardo Di Vinci made this with red chalk to make it more graphic. This portrait features a senile man with a long white beard along with intense eyes under the shed of bushy eyebrows which captures Da Vinci in his true element. His appearance resembles to traditional prophets due to which some critics point out his intention to portray himself as the Almighty.
- Self portrait with beret
It’s safe to say that Claude Oscar Monet brought around the waves of Impressionism whose ripple event was highly evident. The portrait is deeply immersed in a tsunami of colours with soft and fine strokes which seems to lend a blurry sense to it. Monet suffered from cataract so, many critics claim that this portrait was crafted to document his looks before he lost his sight.
- The desperate man
Gustave Courbet was seen as a realist painter who battered the shackles of conventions and came through. He was French and in this self portrait, he seems to be tugging onto his untidy hair and wearing a loose blouse with his face drowning in anguish and frustration. It attempts to showcase the quintessential French artists who had become one with their work and lost themselves in the process.
- Self portrait with Skeleton Arm
This portrait by Edward Munch shows only the head and collar of Munch with the colour pitch black thrown all over the background and it is seen as a lithograph. The skeleton arm placed at the bottom is seen as a ‘memento mori’ of sorts or an upright reminder of humankind’s impending mortality, waiting to mature.
Frida Kahlo said, “I paint flowers so they will not die” which symbolises the immortality of art and it’s varied forms. Eternalise your homes with the presence of the legendary idea of self-portrait of internationally recognized artists.