A Face to the World: On Self Portraits

A Face to the World On Self Portraits Focusing on the art of self portraiture this effortlessly engaging exploration of the lives of artists sheds fascinating light on some of the most extraordinary portraits in art history Self portrait

  • Title: A Face to the World: On Self Portraits
  • Author: Laura Cumming
  • ISBN: 9780007118434
  • Page: 352
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Focusing on the art of self portraiture, this effortlessly engaging exploration of the lives of artists sheds fascinating light on some of the most extraordinary portraits in art history Self portraits catch your eye They seem to do it deliberately Walk into any art gallery and they draw attention to themselves Come across them in the world s museums and you get a straFocusing on the art of self portraiture, this effortlessly engaging exploration of the lives of artists sheds fascinating light on some of the most extraordinary portraits in art history Self portraits catch your eye They seem to do it deliberately Walk into any art gallery and they draw attention to themselves Come across them in the world s museums and you get a strange shock of recognition, rather like glimpsing your own reflection For in picturing themselves artists reveal something far deeper than their own physical looks the truth about how they hope to be viewed by the world, and how they wish to see themselves In this beautifully written and lavishly illustrated book, Laura Cumming, art critic of the Observer, investigates the drama of the self portrait, from Durer, Rembrandt and Velazquez to Munch, Picasso, Warhol and the present day She considers how and why self portraits look as they do and what they reveal about the artist s innermost sense of self as well as the curious ways in which they may imitate our behaviour in real life Drawing on art, literature, history, philosophy and biography to examine the creative process in an entirely fresh way, Cumming offers a riveting insight into the intimate truths and elaborate fictions of self portraiture and the lives of those who practise it A work of remarkable depth, scope and power, this is a book for anyone who has ever wondered about the strange dichotomy between the innermost self and the self we choose to present for posterity our face to the world.

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    1 thought on “A Face to the World: On Self Portraits”

    1. Far More than an Important Art History Book: A Brilliant Historical Novel!, Laura Cumming, in addition to being the art critic of the distinguished British journal The Observer, is a learned communicator and extraordinary writer. Given that she has been influential in the grace of productions offered by the Tate Museum while at the same time being able to be arts producer and presenter for BBC, she comes by her depth of knowledge about the visual arts naturally - and at the same time communicate [...]

    2. Why do artists paint self-portraits, Cumming asks, and so expose themselves and their art to the accusation of narcissism? Her answer is that self-portraits "make artists present as the embodiment of their art" and they often do so to ask who this person is who is looking back from the mirror. Cumming's book is a series of linked essays, roughly chronological in order, from Jan Van Eyck to Cindy Sherman, focusing mostly on paintings. A mighty gallery of artists are discussed under rubrics such a [...]

    3. This book could really have benefited from a more thoughtful layout. Each portrait should have appeared on the page (or facing page) where it's first described. I did a lot of flipping back and forth that really broke the rhythm of the text.As for the text, Laura Cumming certainly had her moments of insight and clarity but overall I found the prose a touch dry. The artists that came to life the most for me were Dürer, Courbet, David and Van Gogh."Self-portraits catch your eye. They seem to be d [...]

    4. I know it's an odd thing to say about an art book, but this makes an exhilarating read. Laura Cumming is a terrific writer on her subject - erudite without being heavy-handed, witty without being facetious - and both her arguments and style are immensely persuasive. The book is both an historical tour and an explication of the many forms which self-portraiture has taken, mainly in painting, but also photography. There are particularly fine chapters on Duerer and Van Gogh, with well- chosen illus [...]

    5. I loved this book. Each chapter looks at a different artist, and what their self-portraits might suggest. Well-written, informative and provocative without ever being out of reach for someone like me who really doesn't know much about art history.

    6. An in-depth, semi-chronological analysis of the artists' self-portraits beginning with Jan van Eyck and finishing up with Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol and Lucian Freud fascinating for its insights and wide range of artists

    7. I found this very satisfying. It was like having a wonderful gossip session with an art historian friend. So, I felt like I was learning a little bit and having a lot of fun.

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