Self-portraits are very much on our collective minds these days. First, there’s the matter of selfies. Thanks to the extraordinarily good cameras built into most smartphones, almost anyone can take a decent photograph of themselves. Most of the resulting images are not great art, so what makes the self-portrait of a professional artist that much better?
This question, among others, is being addressed right now at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Portrait Gallery in its exhibition Eye to I: Self-Portraits from 1900 to Today. On view through August 18, this is a sampling of how more than 75 American artists have chosen to portray themselves over the past 120 years. If you can, we recommend visiting this show in Washington, or at least obtaining its accompanying book, to be published in mid-March.
On offer here is an array of self-portraits painted, sculpted, and drawn by artists who live throughout North America.
We are delighted by what they see in the mirror, and we encourage them to keep looking there in the years ahead, much as Rembrandt and Van Gogh did throughout their careers.