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HomeContentsThemes > Self-portraits

Contents

Early self-portraits
216.01   The first photographic self portrait?
216.02   Hippolyte Bayard: Self portrait as a drowned man (1840)
Self-portraits of photographers
216.03   Self portraits of photographers
Photographers who concentrate on themselves
216.04   Cindy Sherman: Untitled Film Stills
216.05   Gillian Wearing: Album (2003)
216.06   Lucas Samaras: Unpentant Ego
216.07   Nikki S. Lee: Projects
216.08   Samuel Fosso: Self portraits
216.09   Rafael Goldchain: Familial Ground
216.10   John Coplans: Self portraits
216.11   Clarisse d'Arcimoles: Forget Nostalgia - A Little Theatre of Self (2012)
Vernacular self-portraits
216.12   Photobooth portraits
216.13   Lee Godie: Photobooth self-portraits
Contemporary self-portraits
216.14   An introduction to Selfies
This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated. 
  
Status: Collect > Document > Analyse > Improve
 
  
Early self-portraits 
  
216.01   Portrait >  The first photographic self portrait? 
  
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The self portrait has a long tradition in art and the availability and control of the subject matter has meant that it has always been a favorite with photographers. The earliest photographic self portrait is not known with certainty but there are a number taken around 1839 the year photography was announced:  
  
216.02   Portrait >  Hippolyte Bayard: Self portrait as a drowned man (1840) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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Within the history of photography there are extraordinary stories and personal statements but few are as intriguing as that of the developer of one of the earliest technical processes the French civil servant and photographer Hippolyte Bayard.[1] His technique allowed for the direct paper positive of an image rather than a single image as with the daguerreotype. In many ways this was more useful than the daguerreotype but as the French Government had already bought the rights to the daguerreotype from Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre in 1839 Bayard got nothing. It seems that he was stalled in announcing his discovery by François Arago who was the influential supporter of Daguerre. To Bayard goes the credit for the first exhibition of photographic prints as he displayed thirty of them together on 24 June 1839 which preceded the announcement of Daguerre's discoveries on 13 August 1839.
 
The 1840 portrait Bayard took of himself as a drowned man the victim of a suicide because of a lack of official recognition is strange indeed and it is the earliest use of political propaganda as he wrote a message on the back of the print that said in French and there are a variety of versions in different sources:[2]
The corpse which you see here is that of M. Bayard, inventor of the process that has just been shown to you. As far as I know this indefatigable experimenter has been occupied for about three years with his discovery.
 
The Government, which has been only too generous to Monsieur Daguerre, has said it can do nothing for Monsieur Bayard, and the poor wretch has drowned himself. Oh the vagaries of human life...![3]
 
  
Self-portraits of photographers 
  
216.03   Portrait >  Self portraits of photographers 
  
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Photographers who concentrate on themselves 
  
216.04   Portrait >  Cindy Sherman: Untitled Film Stills 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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The most famous of these self explorations is the American photographer Cindy Sherman (1954-) who has turned her entire life into a search for different personas.[4] 
  
216.05   Portrait >  Gillian Wearing: Album (2003) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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Gillian Wearing (1963-) examines her own family by being photographed as the different members (sister, brother, father, uncle etc) in her 2003 series Album.The make up and clothing are remarkable and misleading - the viewer has to question which is the real self-portrait and what a self-portrait means. These examples are from her 2003 Album in which she explores her family through a series of self-portraits. 
  
216.06   Portrait >  Lucas Samaras: Unpentant Ego 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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The Auto-Poloroid series[5] by Lucas Samaras taken between 1968-1971 are of this type - his contorted face stares out threateningly from beneath cheap wigs. It seems that most of the artistic works by the prolific Lucas Samaras are dealing with the portrayal of his own body and personality - the title of his 2003 book Unrepentant Ego: The Self Portraits of Lucas Samaras clearly states this obsession.[6] 
  
216.07   Portrait >  Nikki S. Lee: Projects 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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Korean-born performance artist Nikki S. Lee in her book Projects does far more than change costumes and make-up - she lives with a different group of people for a period and becomes one of them.[7] Each role she takes on becomes an involved portrayal of the community rather than a single camera shot taken to complete a series. Some of the many roles she has taken include drag queen, Hispanic, hip-hop, lesbian, tourist, yuppie, trailer-park dweller, skateboarder, senior citizen, exotic dancer and a street kid. 
  
216.08   Portrait >  Samuel Fosso: Self portraits 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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Samuel Fosso in the Central African Republic took a number of self portraits in different outfits from 1976 onwards.[8] When this work was seen in 1993 by the French photographer Bernard Descamps as he collected material for an exhibition on African photography it burst upon the art world with a storm. In his Tati series Samuel Fosso adorned himself to become a golfer, a biker, a lifeguard, and many others - an ironic look at the west with an African vision. His more recent color work continues the whimsical theme with tongue in cheek self-portraits including the wonderful satire The Chief who Sold Africa to the Colonialists.
 
Samuel Fosso said in a 2011 interview that his self-portraits were a spinoff from his photographic business:
I started taking self-portraits simply to use up spare film; people wanted their photographs the next day, even if the roll wasn't finished, and I didn't like waste. The idea was to send some pictures to my mother in Nigeria, to show her I was all right.
 
Then I saw the possibilities. I started trying different costumes, poses, backdrops. It began as a way of seeing myself grow up, and slowly it became a personal history – as well as art, I suppose.[9]
 
  
216.09   Portrait >  Rafael Goldchain: Familial Ground 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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Photographer and educator Rafael Goldchain[10] gives the context for this his series Familial Ground :
Familial Ground is an autobiographical installation work that includes digitally altered self-portrait photographs, reproductions of pages from an artist‘s book, videotapes, and aural works. It is about grounding identity within a familial and cultural history subject to erasures, geographic displacements, and cultural dislocations. It is the result of a process of gathering and connecting scattered fragments of a past history while acknowledging the impossibility of complete retrieval.
 
The self-portraits in Familial Ground are detailed reenactments of ancestral figures, and can be understood as acts of "naming" linked to mourning and remembrance. Familial Ground attempts to create a poetic language of mourning through self-portraiture and through the conventions of family portrait photography. They propose a form of intersubjective connection between us, and those we mourn. In reenacting ancestral others through a genetic relationship of resemblance, and through the conventionality of the portrait photograph, the self-portraits in Familial Ground suggest that we look at family photographs in order to know ourselves through the photographic trace left by the lost ancestral other.
 
Familial Ground is the product of a process that started several years ago when my son was born. I gradually realized that my new role as parent included the responsibility to pass on to my son a familial and cultural inheritance, and that such inheritance would need to be gathered and delivered gradually in a manner appropriate to his age. My attempts at articulating histories, cultural and familial, public and private, made me acutely aware of how much I knew of the former, and how little of the latter. I thought of the many erasures that my family history was subjected to, and of the way in which my South American and Jewish educations privileged public histories. As I reached my middle years it became important to not only retrieve basic historical facts such as family names, dates, and genealogical relations, but also to attempt to know the world of my ancestors as a basic foundation of my identity, one I could pass on to my son. While I could access the considerable existing stores of knowledge of Eastern European Jewish life, knowledge of the pre-Holocaust lives of my grandparents and their families only exists in fragments deeply buried within the memories of elderly relatives. It is quite clear to me that I am only at the starting point of what could be a long journey, however, my photographic investigation to date has yielded some useful lessons, chief amongst which are the relations amongst family portraiture, mourning and remembrance, notions of history, memory, and of justice and inheritance. Just as I am the carrier of memories and ancestral post-memories through whom the familial past is brought up into the present for my son to carry into the future, the self-portraits in Familial Ground visually articulate a process of mourning and remembrance, whereby figures from familial and cultural history take on my visage as they emerge into visibility (while at the same time remaining concealed behind my features and behind the opacity of the portrait photograph) to remind us of the unavoidable and necessary work of inheritance. These images are the result of a reconstructive process that acknowledges its own limitations in that the construction of an image of the past unavoidably involves a mixture of fragmented memory, artifice, and invention, and that this mixture necessarily evolves as it is transmitted from generation to generation.
 
  
   Rafael  Goldchain 
View exhibition 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
 
  
216.10   Portrait >  John Coplans: Self portraits 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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216.11   Portrait >  Clarisse d'Arcimoles: Forget Nostalgia - A Little Theatre of Self (2012) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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Vernacular self-portraits 
  
216.12   Portrait >  Photobooth portraits 
  
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216.13   Portrait >  Lee Godie: Photobooth self-portraits 
  
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Contemporary self-portraits 
  
216.14   Portrait >  An introduction to Selfies 
  
A "selfie" is a casual self portrait normally taken at arm's length using a digital camera or camera phone and used within the context of social-media. The explosive growth in social media networks where a portrait is a more-or-less obligatory part of a personal profile has led to a fashion trend which was common with MySpace, Facebook and a vast number of similar sites. As email, instant messaging, video messaging and other tools have developed with ever-increasing bandwidth so user have used photographs of where they are as a shorthand for communication. Easier, quicker and with more impact than most word-based messages. In November 2013 the word "selfie" was proclaimed word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary.[11] 
  

Footnotes 
  
  1. Λ Eugenia Parry, 2010, Hippolyte Bayard, (Daniel Blau) 
      
  2. Λ Hippolyte Bayard, "Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man", 1840, Direct paper positive, Société Française de Photographie 
      
  3. Λ Hippolyte Bayard - The J. Paul Getty Museum
    (Accessed: 24 April 2014)
    www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artMakerDetails?maker=1876 
      
  4. Λ Cindy Sherman & Peter Galassi, 2003, Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills, (New York: Musem of Modern Art) 
      
  5. Λ Lucas Samaras, 1971, Samaras Album, Autointerview, Autobiography, Autopolaroid 1971, (New York: the Whitney Museum of American Art and Pace Editions, Inc.) 
      
  6. Λ M. Prather & L. Samaras, 2003, Unrepentant Ego: The Self Portraits of Lucas Samaras, (New York: Harry N. Abrams) 
      
  7. Λ Lesley A. Martin & Russell Ferguson, 2001, Nikki S. Lee: Projects, (Hatje Cantz Publishers) 
      
  8. Λ Maria Francesca Bonetti & Guido Schlinkert, 2008, Samuel Fosso, (5Continents); Ingrid Hoelzl, 2009, "Self-Portrait/Self-Vision: The Work of Samual Fosso", Nka - Journal of Contemporary African Art, no. 24, pp. 40-47 
      
  9. Λ John Henley, 19 June 2011, "Photographer Samuel Fosso's best shot", The Guardian, [Interview]
    (Accessed: 14 August 2013)
    www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2011/jun/19/photographer-samuel-fosso-best-shot 
      
  10. Λ Rafael Goldchain, 2008, I Am My Family: Photographic Memories and Fictions, (Princeton Architectural Press) Book description:
    Old family photo albums are fascinating. If you're lucky enough to own one, you've probably spent hours poring over half-faded black-and-white portraits of your ancestors, searching for similarities in their facial features and wondering what their lives might have been. Unfortunately, not every family has such easy access to their own history. Photographer Rafael Goldchain's Polish-Jewish ancestors emigrated to South America in the 1930s, and many others perished in Poland during the Nazi regime. Also lost in the turmoil of war and emigration were most of the portraits of his extended family. When Goldchain became a parent himself, he decided to make up for this lack of evidence and recreate the lost generations of the past, in the present. Rafael Goldchain's I Am My Family is a family album of traditional portrait photographs with an unconventional twist: the only subject is Goldchain himself. In an elaborate process involving genealogical research, the use of makeup, hair styling, costume, and props, Goldchain transforms himself into his ancestors and captures their personifications with the camera. Taking some liberties with historical accuracy, Goldchain has assembled a fascinating cast of characters: from his short-story-writing grandfather, to his great-aunts Pola and Fela, to the Rabbi Gur's nephew in wedding dress, Goldchain reinvents himself over and over again. These beautifully reproduced self-portraits trace the evolution of Jewish culture from tradition to modernity and invite us to engage the history of a family decimated and scattered by the traumatic events of the 20th century. Featuring an insightful essay by curator Martha Langford, the portraits are complemented by a selection of the archival images on which they are based as well as selections from the artist's handwritten sketchbooks.
     
      
  11. Λ Charissa Coulthard (7 June 2013). "Self-portraits and social media: The rise of the 'selfie'". BBC News online.
    (Accessed: 27 November 2013)
    www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22511650 
      

alan@luminous-lint.com

 
  

HomeContents > Further research

 
  
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General reading 
  
Billeter, Erika (ed.), 1985, Self-Portrait in the Age of Photography: Photographers reflecting their own image, (Bern: Benteli Verlag / Musee cantonal des Beaux-Arts Lausanne) [Exhibition catalogue, Houston 2-30 March 1986, San Antonio 12-27 April 1986, texts by Erika Billeter and Roger Marcel Mayou] [Δ
  
Bright, Susan, 2010, Auto Focus: The Self-Portrait in Contemporary Photography, (The Monacelli Press) isbn-10: 1580933009 isbn-13: 978-1580933001 [Δ
  
Rice, Shelley, 1999, Inverted Odysseys: Claude Cahun, Maya Deren, Cindy Sherman, (The MIT Press) isbn-10: 0262681064 isbn-13: 978-0262681063 [Δ
  
 
  
Readings on, or by, individual photographers 
  
Claude Cahun 
  
Doy, Gen, 2008, Claude Cahun: A Sensual Politics of Photography, (I. B. Tauris) isbn-10: 1845115511 isbn-13: 978-1845115517 [Δ
  
Leperlier, François, 1997, Claude Cahun, (Jean-Michel Place) isbn-10: 2858931585 isbn-13: 978-2858931583 [Δ
  
Leperlier, François, 2006, Claude Cahun: L'Exotisme intérieur, (Fayard) isbn-10: 2213628815 isbn-13: 978-2213628813 [Δ
  
Samuel Fosso 
  
Bonetti, Maria Francesca & Schlinkert, Guido, 2008, Samuel Fosso, (5Continents) isbn-10: 8874391013 isbn-13: 978-8874391011 [Δ
  
Lee Friedlander 
  
Friedlander, Lee, 1970, Self Portrait, (New York: Haywire Press) [Δ
  
Friedlander, Lee, 2011, In the Picture: Self-Portraits, 1958-2011, (Yale University Press) isbn-10: 0300177291 isbn-13: 978-0300177299 [Δ
  
Nikki S. Lee 
  
Martin, Lesley A. & Ferguson, Russell, 2001, Nikki S. Lee: Projects, (Hatje Cantz Publishers) isbn-10: 3775710914 isbn-13: 978-3775710916 [Δ
  
Vivian Maier 
  
Maloof, John (ed.), 2013, Vivian Maier: Self-Portraits photographs by Vivian Maier, (powerHouse Books) isbn-13: 978-1576876626 [Δ
  
Yasumasa Morimura 
  
Morimura, Yasumasa, 2003, Daughter of Art History: Photographs by Yasumasa Morimura, (New York: Aperture) [Introduction by D. Kuspit] [Δ
  
Lucas Samaras 
  
Lifson, B. & Samaras, L., 1987, Samaras: The Photographs of Lucas Samaras, (New York: Aperture) [Δ
  
Prather, M. & Samaras, L., 2003, Unrepentant Ego: The Self Portraits of Lucas Samaras, (New York: Harry N. Abrams) [Δ
  
Tomoko Sawada 
  
Sawada, Tomoko, 2006, Tomoko Sawada: Masquerade, (Akaaka Art Publishing) isbn-10: 4903545024 isbn-13: 978-4903545028 [Δ
  
Cindy Sherman 
  
Cruz, Amada et al., 1997, Cindy Sherman: Retrospective, (New York: Thames and Hudson, Inc. and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles) [Δ
  
Krauss, Rosalind & Bryson, Norman, 1993, Cindy Sherman, 1975–1993, (New York: Rizzoli) [Δ
  
Sherman, Cindy, 2003, Cindy Sherman: The Complete Untitled Film Stills, (New York: Museum of Modern Art) [Distributed outside the United States and Canada by Thames & Hudson] [Δ
  
Heinrich Tönnies 
  
Alland St., Alexander, 1978, Heinrich Tönnies: Cartes-de-visite Photographer Extraordinaire, (NY: Camera/Graphic Press Ltd) [Δ
  
Francesca Woodman 
  
Keller, Corey (ed.), 2011, Francesca Woodman, (D.A.P./San Francisco Museum of Modern Art) isbn-10: 1935202669 isbn-13: 978-1935202660 [Δ
  
Pedicini, Isabella, 2012, Francesca Woodman: The Roman Years Between Skin and Film, (Contrasto) isbn-10: 8869653307 isbn-13: 978-8869653308 [Δ
  
Townsend, Chris, 2006, Francesca Woodman, (Phaidon Press) isbn-10: 0714844306 isbn-13: 978-0714844305 [Δ
  
Woodman, Francesca, 2011, Francesca Woodman's Notebook, (Silvana Editoriale) isbn-10: 8836621171 isbn-13: 978-8836621170 [Afterword by George Woodman] [Δ
  
Woodman, Francesca, 2012, Francesca Woodman: Photographs 1977-1981, (AGMA Publishing) isbn-10: 3950314903 isbn-13: 978-3950314908 [Introduction by Giuseppe Casetti, contribution by Francesco Stocchi] [Δ
  
 
  
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - alan@luminous-lint.com 
  

HomeContentsPhotographers > Photographers worth investigating

 
Karl Baden  (1952-) • Hippolyte Bayard  (1801-1887) • Alyson Belcher  (1967-) • Giacomo Brunelli  (1977-) • Claude Cahun  (1894-1954) • Virgina Countess de Castiglione  (1837-1899) • Clarisse d'Arcimoles  (1986-) • Laurence Demaison  (1965-) • Samuel Fosso  (1962-) • Lee Friedlander  (1934-) • Toto Frima  (1953-) • Rafael Goldchain  (1953-) • Cig Harvey  (1973-) • Rolf Koppel  (1937-) • Robert Mapplethorpe  (1946-1989) • Annu Palakunnathu Matthew  (1964-) • Anne Arden McDonald  (1966-) • Yasumasa Morimura  (1951-) • Frances Murray • Angelo Rizzuto  (1906-1967) • Marialba Russo  (1947-) • Lucas Samaras  (1936-) • Tomoko Sawada  (1977-) • Gary Schneider  (1954-) • Cindy Sherman  (1954-) • Juergen Teller • Andy Warhol  (1928-1987) • Isaac Augustus Wetherby  (1819-1904) • Francesca Woodman  (1958-1981)
HomeThemesPortraitProposed articles > Self-portraits 
 
A wider gazeRelated topics 
  
Alternate personalities and questioning identity 
Photobooths 
 
  

HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Self-portraits

Please submit suggestions for Online Exhibitions that will enhance this theme.
Alan - alan@luminous-lint.com

 
  
ThumbnailAlyson Belcher: Pinhole Self-portraits 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Released (July 16, 2007)
ThumbnailAnne Arden McDonald: Self portraits 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Released (June 11, 2006)
ThumbnailKarl Baden: An Evolving Retrospective 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Released (May 24, 2007)
ThumbnailRafael Goldchain: Familial Ground 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Released (August 24, 2007)
ThumbnailRolf Koppel: Male Nudes 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Released (April 17, 2008)
ThumbnailVernacular photography: Photobooths 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Improved (February 16, 2008) Four new images added from the collection of John Foster.
 
  

HomeVisual indexes > Self-portraits

Please submit suggestions for Visual Indexes to enhance this theme.
Alan - alan@luminous-lint.com

 
  
   Photographer 
  
ThumbnailAndré Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri: Uncut carte de visite sheets 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailCindy Sherman: Untitled film stills 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailClarisse d'Arcimoles: Forget Nostalgia - A Little Theatre of Self 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailEdward Steichen: Self portraits 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailGiacomo Brunelli: Self portraits 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailHermann Krone: Self portraits with cameras (1858) 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailHippolyte Bayard: Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailLucas Samaras: Photo-Transformations 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailNikki S. Lee: Projects 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailSamuel Fosso: Alternate personalities 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailTomoko Sawada: ID400 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailTomoko Sawada: Masquerade 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailWols: Self portraits 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailYasumasa Morimura: Self portraits 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
 
  
   Connections 
  
ThumbnailUnidentified photographer - Clarisse d'Arcimoles 
 
 
  
   Themes 
  
ThumbnailPortrait: Professions: Photographers: Self portraits 
ThumbnailPortrait: Shooting gallery self portraits 
 
  
   Techniques 
  
ThumbnailDaguerreotypes: Themes: Portrait: Self-portraits 
 
 
  
   Still thinking about these... 
  
ThumbnailLee Godie: Photobooth self-portraits 
 
 
  
Refreshed: 02 July 2014, 19:51
 
  
 
  
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