I’ve always been fascinated by self-portraits (not that I’ve done that many myself). Here is not only the artist’s personality expressed through their work, but through their own inner or outer vision of themselves.
Many of history’s great paintings have been self portraits, from Durer and Rembrandt to Sargent and Van Gogh, artists have made self-portraits into powerful statements with the full force of their personality and artistic skills.
One of the most intriguing things about self-portraits is the variety of approach, in terms of materials, the nature of the composition, attitude of the artist as sitter, and the background, setting and objects an artist can choose to surround themselves with.
American Artist, the venerable artists’ magazine, has opened the entry process on this year’s Self-Portrait Competition, in which the selected winners will have their self-portraits published in the magazine. The magazine’s web site has a slide-show of recent entries, about 70 of them at this point, which already constitute a colorful (in more ways then one) assortment of approaches and interpretations of the idea of self portraiture.
In addition, they have provided an inspirational gallery of self-portraits from the history of art, including some greats like Durer’s Christ-like advertisement for his painting skills as a young artist, Chardin’s lifted-eyebrow self-appraisal of his scarfed head, three of Rembrandt’s always remarkable self-images, Sargent’s dignified banker-esque stare, Élisabeth-Louis Vigée-Lebrun’s beautiful 3/4 length portrait with palette, brushes and full-dress finery, Anders Zorn’s frank self-appraisal, several of Ergon Scheel’s stark, gaunt visages and van Gogh’s hauntingly electric, blue and green study of intensity and emotional chaos.
That said, you can submit your own portraits, haunting or otherwise, to the competition for their entry fee of $20, and $5 for additional entries. The info page has general information and the registration page has the terms and conditions. The deadline is May 1, 2008 and entry is limited to U.S. residents.
I don’t know how many pieces will be displayed in the magazine. At any rate, it should be worth checking the recent entries page occasionally just to see the the variety and range of the entries.
(Image above, left to right, Row 1: Ted Burn, Dianne Panarelli Miller, Virginia Blechman; Row 2: Daniel van Benthuysen, Peter Nuchims, David Frank; Row 3: Johanna Uribes, Jim Kilmartin, Koo Schadler; Row 4: Cesar Santos, Spencer Sharp, F. Michael Wood, Ying-He Liu. The unfortunate shadow at the top of each image is the product of the cheesy slide show application the magazine has, for reasons that are beyond me, chosen for this display.)