In 1911, while staying at Spurveskjul, his rented home near Copenhagen, Vilhelm Hammershoi undertook a group of self-portraits that encapsulate his reputation as a painter of tranquil, light-filled interiors. This composition (1911) shows the artist at work, with his left hand raised, as if reflected in a mirror. The sunlit door and window behind him are two of his signature motifs. Left unfinished, the painting was kept by the artist’s wife, Ida, and then her descendants, until 2014. A closely related painting is in the Statens Museum for Kunst (Art), Copenhagen.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.
Contrary to its title, this intriguing and enigmatic self-portrait, The Artist Looks at Nature (1943), shows the artist ignoring the brightly lit landscape in front of him. Nature, as depicted here, is surreal, with inexplicable discrepancies of scale and perspective. The fields suggest the terrain around Sheeler’s Connecticut home, while the massive walls recall Hoover Dam, which the artist photographed in 1939. In the painting, Sheeler works intently on a monochromatic drawing of an antiquated stove, which is based on a photograph he took in 1917. Yet despite these deliberate references to his own work, the painting’s meaning is ambiguous. Perhaps Sheeler wished to evoke the many vistas open to an artist, the literal and figurative landscapes of the mind.
This painting, entitled Anywhere Out of the World (1915 – 19) may be a self portrait. Mark Chagall (1887 – 1985) bisected the head of the figure because, as he explained it, it “needed a bank space right there“ to strengthen the composition. The pictorial strategy, which appears in some of his earlier paintings, could be a rendition of the “luftmensch,“ a Yiddish term used to describe a person who is concerned with intellectual pursuits rather than with the practicalities of life. The sideways cityscape adds tension to the scene. The painting’s overall geometrization is reminiscent of El Lissitzky’s Proun paintings — abstract compositions meant to be looked at from various vantage points.
While Self Portrait (1929) realistically depicts John Kane’s body in his late sixties — detailing his veins, chest hair and wrinkles — it is also an object of decorative display, with a frame painted around the canvas edges and arches defining the figure’s head. Rendered in muted colors, the bare-chested artist faces his viewers against a stark background, recalling classic self-portraits and images of Christ. Kane explained, “Chiefly, I am impressed with the works of the old masters. These I cannot study enough.” Working by day as a laborer, Kane could not attend formal art classes, but he devoted much of his spare time to studying and practical painting.
A powerful rendering by the artist in her twenties, this picture was made with a practical purpose; it was painted as a reception piece for admission to the life-drawing course at the National Academy of Design. While Lee Krasner (1908 – 1984) is best known for the personal style that she developed within the movement of Abstract Expressionism in the 19540s, this self portrait (c. 1930) is a rare example of her early work, using the thick brushwork and high color of the Impressionists and Realists of the previous generation. Strikingly, Krasner depicts herself at work in nature. She eyes the viewer, who stands on the spot where, presumably, a mirror hangs on a tree. Her expression and strong handling of light and shade evoke the resolve of a young woman rising to the challenge of her artistic vocation.
Artist Chuck Close is renowned for his highly inventive investigations into how we process information. Celebrated internationally, Close uses the absolute minimum amount of information necessary to render likenesses. In the new works for his sixteenth exhibition with Pace, entitled Red Yellow Blue , Close continues his involvement with the grid as an organizing device, creating full-color paintings out of only cyan, magenta, and yellow pigments, and layering colors in singular brushstrokes; applying multiple thin washes of red, yellow and blue paint in each cell of the grid, until they accumulate into extravagant full-color images.
Although the works represent a new direction for Close, they are also a revival and reconsideration of processes he first used in the 1970s when he first restricted his palette to three colors, coaxing different saturations of paint and hue into photorealist portraits; however, this time the color has no relationship to reality.
The earliest works in the exhibition — portraits of Cindy Sherman and Cecily Brown — reveal the beginnings of this process, leaving the painting’s development visible.
When viewed up close, the portrayed subjects disintegrate into grids of color evocative of Paul Klee’s Magic Square paintings. These works attest to a heightened interest in the effects of color and suggest a new way of challenging the processes through which his portraits are constructed. It allows the arrtist to create distinct works from the same image through different saturations and juxtapositions of hue.
Chuck Close: Red Yellow Blue will be on Exhibit Through October 17th, 2015 at Pace Gallery, Located at 534 West 25th Street in the Chelsea Gallery District.
ClampArt Gallery is currently hosting an exhibit of homo-erotic self-portraits from the ’70s and ’80s by the infamous gay icon, Peter Berlin. The reason there are only two photos in this post is because these were two of the few in which Berlin’s very impressive junk is not fully on display. Here is a bit of background on the photographer and model: in his 20s, Berlin worked as a celebrity portraitist for German television. Around this time, that he began designing and sewing his own skin-tight clothing, which he would wear as he cruised the parks and train stations in Berlin, Rome, Paris, New York, and San Francisco.
Self Portrait in Black Leather
After several long-term stays on the East Coast, Peter Berlin eventually moved to San Francisco in 1969, and became a fixture on the streets with his signature look. He soon began producing films and starred in the now iconic Nights in Black Leather (1973), co-directed by Richard Abel. Berlin then produced, directed, and starred in That Boy the following year, and made four shorter films through the mid- to late-1970s, while publishing and selling his photographic self portraits. Peter Berlin was the subject of several Robert Mapplethorpe photographs, three drawings by Tom of Finland, and at least one portrait by Andy Warhol, attesting to his worldwide celebrity.
Still alive and well at age 73, Berlin was truly a vision to behold in his youth. If homoeroticism in your thing, don’t miss this exhibit. Alternatively if you are into leather and the work it goes there will be a few big leather critics there, they review the top industrial sewing machines that can also be used to sew leather.
Peter Berlin’s Wanted will be on Exhibit Through October 10th, 2015 at ClampArt, Located at 531 West 25th Street, Ground Floor, in the Chelsea Gallery District.