Tag Archives: self portrait

Modern Art Monday Presents: Vilhelm Hammershoi, Self Portrait at Spurveskjul

vilhelm hammershoi self portrait photo by gail worley
Photo By Gail

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.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Charles Sheeler, The Artist Looks at Nature

the artist looks at nature photo by gail worley
Photo By Gail

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.

Photographed in the Art Institute, Chicago.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Marc Chagall, Anywhere Out Of The World

anywhere out of the world marc chagall photo by gail worley
Photo By Gail

This painting, entitled Anywhere Out of the World (191519) may be a self portrait. Mark Chagall (18871985) 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. 

Photographed in the Jewish Museum in Manhattan.

Modern Art Monday Presents: John Kane, Self Portrait

John Kane Self Portrait
Photo By Gail

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.

Photographed in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC.

Modern Art Monday Presents: Lee Krasner, Self Portrait

Lee Krasner Self Portrait
Photo By Gail

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 (19081984) 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.

Photographed in the Jewish Museum in NYC.