The Self-Portrait: A Cultural Historyby James Hall
Sheds new light on the long history of self-portraiture with fresh interpretations of famous examples and new works, ideas, and anecdotesThis broad cultural history of self-portraiture brilliantly maps the history of the genre, from the earliest myths of Narcissus and the Christian tradition of “bearing witness” to the prolific self-image-making of/p>
Sheds new light on the long history of self-portraiture with fresh interpretations of famous examples and new works, ideas, and anecdotesThis broad cultural history of self-portraiture brilliantly maps the history of the genre, from the earliest myths of Narcissus and the Christian tradition of “bearing witness” to the prolific self-image-making of today’s contemporary artists.
Focusing on a perennially popular subject, the book tells the vivid history of works that offer insights into artists’ personal, psychological, and creative worlds. Topics include the importance of the medieval mirror craze in early self-portraiture; the confessional self-portraits of Titian and Michelangelo; the mystique of the artist’s studio, from Vermeer to Velázquez; the role of biography and geography for serial self-portraitists such as Courbet and Van Gogh; the multiple selves of modern and contemporary artists such as Cahun and Sherman; and recent developments in the era of globalization.
Comprehensive and beautifully illustrated, the book features the work of a wide range of artists including Beckmann, Caravaggio, Dürer, Gentileschi, Ghiberti, Giotto, Goya, Kahlo, Kauffman, Magritte, Mantegna, Picasso, Poussin, Raphael, Rembrandt and Van Eyck. The full range of the subject is explored, including comic and caricature self-portraits, “invented” or imaginary self-portraits, and important collections of self-portraiture such as that of the Medici.
Rembrandt and Courbet [created self-portraits] is at the heart of art historian
James Hall’s book. . . . Hall’s writing is not only accessible for a general audience,
but filled with notable insights, including spicy, prurient ones.”
Eyck to Diego Velázquez’s ‘Las Meninas.’”
Art historian Hall examines the genre of self-portraiture from the Middle Ages to the present, contextualizing the tradition in relation to the cultural climate of its time. The author emphasizes that his examination differs from other histories of self-portraiture by stressing the importance of the Middle Ages to this genre, as well as the significance of mirrors to artists beginning in this period compared to in the Renaissance. Hall discusses portraiture chronologically and thematically. He addresses the artist as a cultural hero during the Renaissance; the mythologization of the artist's studio in the 17th century; the self-portrait expressing personal feeling, emotion, and biography in the 19th century; the themes of sex and genius in the early 20th century; and the marginalization of the face and emphasis on the body in the later part of that time. Well-known artists such as Titian, Frida Kahlo, and Caravaggio are considered, but Hall also brings in lesser-known figures to help illustrate specific points. VERDICT This clear, well-researched book is an exceptional choice for everyone from the general reader to the expert in art history.—Sandra Rothenberg, Framingham State Coll. Lib., MA
- Thames & Hudson
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- 23 MB
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Meet the Author
James Hall is an art historian, lecturer, and broadcaster, and is a visiting research fellow at the University of Southampton in England. He is the author of four critically acclaimed books.
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