The Artist, the Image and the Self: Representation in Rembrandt, Bacon, Mapplethorpe, Sherman, and Nan Goldin
Before photography, only painters, printmakers, and sculptors could tell, through self-portraits, how they saw themselves and how they were perceived. In the past, only artists had the resources to capture and picture themselves. From one brushstroke to another, this mediated gesture marked the perception of the self. Western art highlights numerous works from artists who wrote the history of culture through portraiture and self-representation. In contemporary art, some artists have been able to explore new means to investigate new possibilities of representing the self. In the past, painters seemed to scrutinize the mirror in search for hidden truths; in our era, however, dominated by uncertainty, ambiguity, and speedy records that carry out their obsolescence, new issues cross the representation in contemporary art. It is undeniable that the history of art reveals how self-representation has been an essential tool for artists, regardless of the historical time in which they are inserted, in their search to reflect on themselves and their relations with the world. In the face of an immensely large and virtually inexhaustible universe, in this study we focus on five artists: Rembrandt, Francis Bacon, Robert Mapplethorpe, Cindy Sherman, and Nan Goldin.
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