Posts Tagged ‘Ich’

Art | Self-Portraiture Without the Self

Friday, February 26th, 2016

Mark Leckey, Leckey Legs, 2014
3D Photopolymer print
Courtesy Galerie Buchholz,
Köln/Berlin/New York
Photo Sven Laurentt



Me / Ich
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt
Frankfurt | Germany
10 March > 19 May 2016



Erwin Wurm, Selbstporträt
als Essiggurkerl
, 2010

Acrylic, acrylic lacquer,
lacquered wooden pedestals,
36-piece installation
Photo Museum der Moderne Salzburg
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016



Eberhard Havekost, Hotel, 2003 (2)
Inkjet on paper, framed Edition of 5
Courtesy Galerie Gebr Lehmann
Photo Werner Lieberknecht



In September 2014, The Guardian published their Top 10 Self-portraits in Art. Of the one hundred or so self-portraits Rembrandt van Rijn produced during his lifetime, including around fifty paintings, thirty-two etchings and seven drawings, just two were selected. The list, which was biased towards British artists included Lucian Freud’s Reflection With Two Children (Self-Portrait) (1965) and Self-Portrait With Charlie (1995) by David Hockney. Women artists were represented by, among others, Artemisia Gentileschi’s Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting (1638-39), and Tracey Emin’s I’ve Got It All (2000). In the writer’s opinion, Hockney ‘paints the ideal of honest observation’ and Picasso’s self-portraits are more to do with self-examination than an invitation to you to examine him too closely. Interestingly, and unusual for her, Untitled Film Still #48 (1979) by Cindy Sherman is the only one of the ten which doesn’t show the artist’s face.

Jürgen Klauke, Toter Fotograf, 1988/93
2-part photograph on baryta paper,
Courtesy Galerie Elisabeth & Klaus Thoman,
Innsbruck/Wien & the artist
Photo Jürgen Klauke
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016



Jun Ahn, Self-Portrait (Seoul), 2008/2014
Archival pigment print
© Jun Ahn, Courtesy Christophe Guye Galerie



A forthcoming exhibition in Germany will explore the contemporary art concept of ’self-portraiture without the self’ – or at least, for the most part, without the face. Among those artists included using photography as their medium, who have determined that body parts alone will suffice, Wolfgang Tillmans chooses to show only his knee, while Eberhard Havekost’s contribution is a detail of a hotel room interior with the toes of the artist’s right foot poking up into it; Friederike Pezold’s, Brustwerk, 1973, is a six-part polyptych in which her hands manipulate her naked breasts. In typically entertaining fashion, discarding his flesh and blood entirely and replacing it with a pickled vegetable, for his installation Selbstporträt als Essiggurkerl, 2010, sculptor Erwin Wurm portrays himself as a series of 36 gherkins of various sizes, each placed vertically on a sort of cityscape of white plinths. Showing no actual paintings, Ryan Gander displays the palettes he allegedly used during the production of his self-portrait/s.

Thorsten Brinkmann, Brinkmann, 2006
Carton, Sneaker, plastic legs and jeans of the artist,
Courtesy Teutloff Museum eV
Photo Thorsten Brinkmann
© VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2016



In the face of the selfie’s universal democratisation of the self-portrait, are contemporary artists beating a retreat into the comparative safety of an arcane anonymity? Who’s to say? Featuring 40 works by international artists such as Joseph Beuys, Sarah Lucas, Nam June Paik, Rosemarie Trockel, and Gillian Wearing, Me/Ich, the forthcoming exhibition at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt, will probably throw up more questions than it does answers.

All images courtesy Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt


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