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Self-Portraits in the context of their time
on 7 July 2014
This is an interesting history of the Self-Portrait, which covers not only paintings, etchings and drawing, but also sculpture and pottery (Gauguin made a number of self-portraits in pottery.) It is a scholarly book with a great deal on the literary sources which have inspired (or may have inspired) the work of self-portraitists, and sometimes we have very long passages about such background and about aspects of the lives of the artists before we get to the discussion of actual self-portraits. The interpretations of the latter are always interesting, even when they sometimes struck me as personal and possibly far-fetched on occasions. The last chapter, on Modern and Contemporary Self-Portraits shows (in my opinion, for Hall does not make any value judgments) just how gimmicky, pretentious and plain rubbishy a lot of contemporary art is.
Finding self-portraits fascinating, I enjoyed the book, though I found Laura Cummins’ “A Face to the World” more rewarding - see my Amazon review.