After six centuries, self-portraiture shows no sign of losing its ability to capture the public imagination. Self-portraits have the power to illuminate a range of universal concerns, from identity, purpose, and authenticity, to frailty, futility, and mortality.
In this new volume in the Art Essentials series, author Natalie Rudd expertly casts fresh light on the self-portrait and its international appeal, exploring the historical contexts within which self-portraits developed and considering the meanings they hold today. With commentaries on works by artists ranging from Jan van Eyck, Francisco Goya, and Vincent van Gogh, to Frida Kahlo, Faith Ringgold, and Cindy Sherman, this book explores the emotive and expressive potential of self-portraiture. The Self-Portrait also considers a wide range of materials available for self-expression, from painting and photography to installation and performance. In the process, the book explores the central question of why artists return to the self-portrait again and again. In her vibrant and timely text, Rudd dissects this 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.
Natalie Rudd is senior curator of the United Kingdom’s Arts Council Collection. She has published monographs on the artists Peter Blake and Paul de Monchaux, among others.