Artists’ self-portraits are critical to our understanding of both portraiture and the history of art. They are the form in which many artists have come to be remembered, offering insights into their lives, surroundings, and even their state of mind.
But what motivates a painter or photographer to record themselves?
A self-portrait is “a portrait that an artist produces of themselves.” On the other hand, a selfie is “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.
As well as representing your physical attributes and a document of your age, self-portraiture can be used to announce yourself as an artist in the style you are currently working in – a calling card of sorts.
One artist who saw himself as a fine self-portrait artist was Rembrandt. He did this effortlessly with nearly 100 self-portraits in his lifetime. It can be difficult to paint or draw yourself in an honest light but it can teach you to be authentic in creative work.
Portraiture is a very old art form born in ancient Egypt, where it flourished about 5,000 years ago. During that time, before the invention of photography, the only way to record the appearance of someone was through painting, sculpture or drawing.
A portrait was created to represent a person/someone, in which the face and its expression are predominant.
Selfies and painted self-portraits, on the other hand, share many similarities. Both selfies and self-portraits are forms of self-representation using different technology. While smartphones and cameras are types of technology, mirrors and painting are other types.
Nowadays, everybody takes selfies, maybe we don’t think about them but they represent our sense of self at that moment.
Expert Dr Pamela Rutledge, Director of the Media Psychology Research Centre in Boston, states:
“Selfies frequently trigger perceptions of self-indulgence or attention-seeking social dependence that raises the damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don’t the spectre of either narcissism or very low self-esteem.”
Basing their self-esteem on how many likes they have is a way for people to feed their egos. However, since people now have the ease of comparing themselves to those they idolize, social media is also feeding their feelings of inferiority.
It’s different with self-portraits. They usually carry a certain idea and meaning. They carry a message and there is something that inspired the artist to make them.
With smartphones in our pockets, always with us, it seems we can’t help it. We take pictures of our food, record the places we go and the routes we take, make posts about our joys and travails—and, of course, share photos of our faces.
Out of all the ways we document our lives, selfies are particularly notable. Over the past decade or so, they have become ubiquitous.
This is all due to our ever-evolving social media practice and digital presence. It is everywhere. The internet has transformed the way we live, work and enjoy entertainment.
They already have a few products that will bring us closer to the metaverse. For example, they are planning on creating a world where people can connect through virtual reality (VR). Along with interaction through games, challenges and even walking around a room with others who may be across the world.
Now with Facebook’s recent purchase of Oculus, it has become clear that VR will be growing in popularity shortly. However, this is just the start as slowly our ever-evolving world is joining hands to highlight the future of the internet and soon lifestyle.
Expect more self-portraits and selfies soon.