Self Portrait

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Self-Portrait: A True Self ? By: Sophie Johnson

traces oftheself

explode

outofthe

humanphysicality

fingerprints are

leftbehind

without

a

moments

thought

hairfollicles

imitate

hitchhikers

wandering

along

desert

roads

the molecules left behind from a breath

l i n g e r

in

the

air

Suchistrueforartists andtheirwork.Artistsputall oftheirselfintotheartthey produce.Dependingonthe archivalnatureoftheart, centuriesdownthelinethatart willberevisitedwhenthe artistisnolongeramemberof thehumansocialnetwork. Everypieceofartin existenceharborstracesof itsmaker.Whetheritlies withinthecontextoftheart, thewaythematerialsareused, ortheliteralsubjectmatter, theartistcreatesinaunique manneraccordingtotheirown aestheticpreferences.Whoisto arguethatallartisnotatrue representationoftheartist? Perhapsaselfportraitpresents theobviousnatureoftheself thattheartistwishesto display,butisitatrue representation?Can the viewer entrust their opinion of the artists true self based on the artists depiction of his or her own appearance?

Personallifeexperiences reverberateacrosseveryartists work.Inturn,theartistsselfis representedineveryworkthey produce.SelfPortraituredoesnot standaloneinthepersonificationof theartist;allpiecesinanartists collectionillustratetheartists identity.However,accordingto Gassertheartistsselfportrait allowsushumbleoutsidersa glimpseattheintimacyhousedin anartistsselfportrait(Gasser,7).

Isthatintimacytheultimatetruth?

Perhapsnot

Hereinliestheconundrum.

Theexplorationoftheselfportraitasatruerepresentationoftheselfbegins withtheanalysisofartistsKiki

Smith

andLUCAS

SAMARAS.Smithand

Samarasbothincludeaseriesofselfportraitsintheirrepertoire.Smithhasmultiple subjectmattersinthebodyofherwork,whereasSamarasfocusessolelyontheself ashissubjectmatter.

Kiki Smith

isanartistwho

worksprimarilyinsculpture,butalso experimentedwithprintmaking.Before attendingtheUniversalLimitedArt Editionsin1989,sheprimarilyuseda neutralfigureasformsinherart(W an, eitm24).

WhileinattendanceatULAE,shebegan

touseherownimageastheformsinher prints.

Theres something really nice about transgress ing your own image. Its endlessly amusing to make yourself horrificlookingKiki Smith(Weitman, 25)

Smith uses herself as an image in many different ways. In her piece Banshee Pearls (1991) she toys with reality by photorealism with blurry Here, Smith revisits using negative photograph images of her face in graphic transfers and contrasting the between creepy and beautiful mask-like masses with the resulting aesthetic that dwindles(Weitman, 25).

a childhood memory of her father calling her a banshee and uses this recollection as the inspiration for this piece(Weitman, 25).

I made a celebration of being a death figure Kiki Smith(W eitman, 25)

Smith exaggerates her physical flaws in many of her selfportraits(Weitman, 25).

In her untitled self-portraits she

produced in 1993, she uses her face as the subject matter in a

hauntingly bleak

way

(Weitman, 26).

Smiths choice to present herself in the way that likens her image to that of a ghost or a banshee forces her audience to relate to her on a more personal level than a simple photograph could achieve.

Incontrast,Lucas

Samaras

isanartistwhosolelyproducesself

portraitsashismethodofchoice.

When I fall in love with somebody, I invariably discovered that I did not receive from them what my education and fantasy required. As a result, I shifted myself to myself. Lucas Samaras(Prather, 44)

KuspitexplainsthatSamarasconstantlyshiftsbacktotheselfastheobject ofhisaffection,andinturnportraysthatinhisart(Prather,44).

Samarasselfportraitsare ajourneythroughtheartistslife. Thedifferencesinthevarietyof hisportraitsreflectthemultiple aspectsofbeinghuman.Totruly beabletocapturetheselfinone paintingordrawingisnear impossible.Samarasuseshis entirecareertostrivetocapture theself,andindoingsoisableto exploreeveryuniqueaspectofhis persona.

Samarass creativity feeds on itself, rummaging through the past to find an artistic future, which is what narcissistic, myth-making memory always does (Prather, 57)

Attherootof everyoneofSamarass selfportraitsisa primordialpresence(Prather,50).

Self

portraitsinnatureare aboutself-

representation.Samarasportraits preservethenatureof theselfthewaymany selfportraitscannot(Prather,50).

Samara

attachedallofhis experiencesfromhis lifetohiswork,theway Smithdrawsinspiration fromherlifeand portraysthatinherart. However,Samaratitled allofhisartasa representationof himself,whereasSmith chosetousevarious subjectmatters.

Anartistscontent isatrue representationofwhotheyare. Contentmaychangebasedondifferent revelationsandmomentsinanartists life,butitalwaysrelatesbacktothe artistsexperience.

Atwhatpointcantheartisteverbe separatedfromtheirart?

Whetherthechosensubjectmatterisa selfportraitoralandscape,

the artist is always present in the art.

Bibliography 1.Gasser,M.(1961).Selfportraits.NY,NY:AppletonCentury. 2.Prather,M.(2003).Unrepentantego:theselfportraitsoflucas samaras.NY,NY:WhitneyMuseumofArt. 3.Weitman,W.(2003).Kikismith.NY,NY:TheMuseumof ModernArt. 4. 5. 6. Images1.Prather,M.(2003).Unrepentantego:theselfportraitsoflucassamaras. NY,NY:WhitneyMuseumofArt. 2.Weitman,W.(2003).Kikismith.NY,NY:TheMuseumofModernArt. 3.http://wings.buffalo.edu/english/faculty/conte/syllabi/377/Images/Johns_Ski ns.jpg 4.http://gimps.de/pictures/albums/userpics/10001/hairstylesforshorthair.jpg 5.SophieJohnson.(2010).Fargo,ND. 6.Prather,M.(2003).Unrepentantego:theselfportraitsoflucassamaras. NY,NY:WhitneyMuseumofArt. 7.Prather,M.(2003).Unrepentantego:theselfportraitsoflucassamaras. NY,NY:WhitneyMuseumofArt. 8.Prather,M.(2003).Unrepentantego:theselfportraitsoflucassamaras. NY,NY:WhitneyMuseumofArt. 9.Prather,M.(2003).Unrepentantego:theselfportraitsoflucassamaras. NY,NY:WhitneyMuseumofArt. 10.Prather,M.(2003).Unrepentantego:theselfportraitsoflucassamaras. NY,NY:WhitneyMuseumofArt. 11.Prather,M.(2003).Unrepentantego:theselfportraitsoflucassamaras. NY,NY:WhitneyMuseumofArt. 12.Weitman,W.(2003).Kikismith.NY,NY:TheMuseumofModernArt. 13.Weitman,W.(2003).Kikismith.NY,NY:TheMuseumofModernArt. 14.Weitman,W.(2003).Kikismith.NY,NY:TheMuseumofModernArt. 15.Weitman,W.(2003).Kikismith.NY,NY:TheMuseumofModernArt. 16.Weitman,W.(2003).Kikismith.NY,NY:TheMuseumofModernArt. 17.Weitman,W.(2003).Kikismith.NY,NY:TheMuseumofModernArt. 18.Prather,M.(2003).Unrepentantego:theselfportraitsoflucassamaras. NY,NY:WhitneyMuseumofArt. 19.Prather,M.(2003).Unrepentantego:theselfportraitsoflucassamaras. NY,NY:WhitneyMuseumofArt. 20.Prather,M.(2003).Unrepentantego:theselfportraitsoflucassamaras. NY,NY:WhitneyMuseumofArt. 21.Weitman,W.(2003).Kikismith.NY,NY:TheMuseumofModernArt. 22.Prather,M.(2003).Unrepentantego:theselfportraitsoflucassamaras. NY,NY:WhitneyMuseumofArt. 23.Prather,M.(2003).Unrepentantego:theselfportraitsoflucassamaras. NY,NY:WhitneyMuseumofArt. 24.Prather,M.(2003).Unrepentantego:theselfportraitsoflucassamaras. NY,NY:WhitneyMuseumofArt.