Monday, May 2, 2011

BEAUTY: Art--Self Portraits

I love seeing self portraits of legendary artists--not only is it another chance to appreciate their vision and style, but it is interesting to see how they saw themselves and how they wished to be seen--whether consciously or subconsciously--by others.

Self portraits from top to bottom by: René Magritte, Piet Mondrian, Emile Friant, Anselm Feuerbach, Balthus, Eugene Delacroix, Hippolyte Flandrin, John Singer Sargent, Monet

But this sculptural--and highly conceptual--self-portrait I saved for last since it requires a bit of explanation. By Marc Quinn, who is considered one of the YBA (Young British Artists, which include Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas and the late Angus Fairhurst among others), the piece is aptly entitled "Self," and is a mold of Quinn's head made from 4.5 liters of his own blood which was collected from his own body during a five month period. It is kept in a refrigerated unit, as you can see, to keep it in a coagulated state. Quinn updates the piece every five years, creating a new casting from a fresh supply of his blood. What a mind-boggling statement to make... it makes the self-portrait even more relevant, more real, more literal. How could a self-portrait be any more about the artist than being made with material from the artist?

I saw this piece in London at the Saatchi Gallery when it was in its old space, The County Hall on the South Bank, right on the Thames. Charles Saatchi sold it to a private collector in 2005 for £1.5 million, but it was then sold in 2006 to the National Portrait Gallery in London, where it now resides.

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