PublicationsEye to I
Self-Portraits from the National Portrait Gallery
by Brandon Brame Fortune
Today, with the proliferation of selfies and the contemporary focus on identity, it is time to reassess the significance of the self-portrait. Drawing primarily from the National Portrait Gallery’s collection, Eye to I explores how American artists have portrayed themselves over the past two centuries. The book shows that while each individual approaches self-portraiture under unique circumstances, all of their representations raise important questions about self-perception and self-reflection. Sometimes artists choose to reveal intimate details of their inner lives. Other times they use the genre to obfuscate their true selves or invent alter egos.
This richly illustrated book features an introduction by the National Portrait Gallery’s chief curator and nearly one hundred fifty insightful entries on key self-portraits in the museum’s collection. It enables the reader to come face to face with some of America’s most influential artists of the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries, like Edward Hopper, Beatrice Wood, Man Ray, Alexander Calder, Edward Steichen, Diego Rivera, George Gershwin, Elaine de Kooning, Louise Bourgeois, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Joan Jonas, Patti Smith, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Alice Neel, David Hockney, Chuck Close, and many more. Eye to I provides readers with an overview of self-portraiture while revealing the intersections that exist between art, life, and self-representation.